In 2016, we ran a new coaching programme, Making a Living from Local Food, offering free mentoring and peer-to-peer-support to aspiring and recently established local food entrepreneurs from across Scotland. It was a diverse bunch of new entrant farmers, crofters, processors, bakers, distributors and caterers. Over the coming week, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of the participants on our blog. To kick us off, we’re pleased to introduce Adam Veitch, who has started Doughies in Fort William. Adam’s mentor was Heather Anderson, co-owner of Whitmuir The Organic Place.
What do you do?
We make slowly fermented, wholesome sourdoughs in our wee Fort William microbakery, located on a co-owned working croft. We bake once per week, sold via an openfoodnetwork shop and at a local deli.
When did you start?
We started blogging about bread in 2011. We seriously started bread this year, in May 2016.
How have you developed your business this year?
Doughies went from nothing to something – launching mid May at a Made in Lochaber trade show. We’ve baked 463 loaves of sourdough in the form of 27 weekly bakes for Delicraft. We probably baked the same again at various food festivals and markets, and met many of the people eating our sourdough. Early in December we started taking individual orders via the openfoodnetwork
How has the coaching programme helped you with this?
I’ve learned about our place in Scotland’s food system and have been encouraged by the peer support and pressure of other like-minded individuals who do not consider the norm, and encourage change/ new models of doing food, to get on and DO! Plus the 1:1 mentoring – having someone to ask / re-assure / re-affirm / ask probing questions.
What have you learned?
That our food system is in need of an overhaul; that it needs to be changed at a local level; and that you need to support the local food producers around you both as a consumer and a micro producer.
What’s your dream? Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?
The dream? Probably our croft supporting us full time on local food. We don’t have a fixed 5-year plan, but we do have four areas we are really excited about for next year (2017), all revolving around closing the loop.
We want to close the loop with: the people who eat our sourdough (1), with the grain that goes into our sourdough (2), with any waste sourdough we produce (3), and the way doughies fits in with other local micro food producers (4).
Here’s what we have in mind….
1) We want to expand the openfoodnetwork shop with a way for individuals to subscribe regularly for a fixed length of time. So in 2017 we will start offering a 16 week Sourdough Subscription of 2.5kg monster sourdoughs (or equivalent) to get you/your family through the week, for £150 (under a tenner per week). We’ll have two 16-week slots during 2017 – a spring sourdough subscription (you get sourdough during Feb, Mar, April and May 2017) and an autumn sourdough subscription (you get sourdough July, Aug, Sept and Oct). There’ll be some options for sourdough and delivery preference; and it’ll be flexible enough that you can take a holiday break and/or order extra if you have guests etc.
2) We want to start growing rye. We had good fun this year with a wee dabble in growing oats, and helped harvest some heritage wheat down at Bread Matters. We’re quite taken with the idea of trying our hand at growing rye on the croft – its well suited to the highlands of Scotland (liking the wet and cold) and we know people like our rye sourdoughs.
3) We want to start brewing beer with waste bread. We’re visiting the Isle of Bute brewery in January to turn this year’s waste bread into beer, through an open source waste bread/beer recipe called Toast Ale. If this goes to plan, then we’ll be looking to do the same with waste bread during 2017, perhaps a few more batches including an unusual fermented rye drink called Kvass.
4) We want to work with other local food producers and establish/set up a local food club (for lack of a better word!). Not just bread. Think beer, beef, potatoes, vegetables – working with other micro-food producers in the area to really rethink the way we grow, rear, bake and locally distribute food here in Fort William.
What motivated you to set up this business?
We originally started Doughies due to a lack of good bread in Fort William. Out motivation for both starting and growing Doughies are encapsulated in 10 founding ingredients of the dough that is Doughies. They are founding principles. These are lines in the sand (or in our case the flour). They are the levain that makes us grow.
- #realbread Only make bread from real ingredients (flour, water, salt & yeast) – add nothing but time; enrich with only pure wholesome ingredients.
- #localfuel Bake this bread using locally produced fuel; be that local wood in the fire and/or local renewable electricity on the hob.
- #treadlightly Distribute bread locally with care and be mindful of the footprint of doing so – use feet, bikes, canoes and cars (in that order).
- #soundsuppliers Only use ingredients and work with businesses who we’d invite to our dinner table (and then do so!). Lend them a hand when in need and in kind they will do the same.
- #notforprofit Not bake for profit. We draw a fair wage for time spent at the dough table, but all excess money shall not make us rich but instead grow the business & do good (see no 7).
- #educate Involve, educate and share bread skills, time and oven space with the local community.
- #do-good Share bread with the hungry, warm both the bake house and people’s hearts.
- #playregularly Not work too hard; nor try get too big – balance baking bread and drawing a wage with fun and well being.
- #workco-operatively work towards an employee owned co-operative
- #craftmanship Use our hands not machines when baking wherever possible – focus on embedded time and quality, not speed and quantity
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just a quote I read the other day that made me sit up and think – “despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to this six inch layer of top soil and the fact it rains”…humbling indeed… 🙂
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Making a Living from Local Food is kindly funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund.