Nutritious and Local Bread

In 2020 we teamed up with our colleagues and Nourish members Scotland The Bread to strengthen bread making culture in Scotland, and to improve access to nutritious and locally baked bread in communities that need it most.

As part of this collaboration, we’ve been involved in the following strands of work:

  • Baking in the Community project
  • Flour to the People project
  • Participatory plant breeding research

Baking in the Community

Baking in the Community brought together a group of community bakers from different parts of Scotland to improve access to nutritious and locally baked bread in communities where people need it most, and to strengthen a network of community bakers across Scotland.

We were delighted  to forge links with the following eight bakeries:

The bakeries took part in a series of online workshops and discussions held monthly between March – October 2020. The sessions aimed to build greater capacity within bakers to involve their local communities in baking nutritious bread. This included developing resources and adapting recipes to suit the needs and preferences of local communities.

In parallel, each of the bakeries developed strategies to involve people from their communities in baking with nutritious, organic Scottish flour. Originally planned as small group workshops to be held in their local communities, these ‘Community Fermenter’ activities included socially distanced demonstrations at local farmers’ markets, supplying ‘bread kits’, recipe booklets and support to individuals wanting to try baking at home, online baking groups and workshops, face-to-face workshops, 1-1 skill development for existing volunteers and encouragement and skills sharing via Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

This network of community bakeries came together during the uncertainty of lockdown, and their ongoing work is strengthening a much wider network of local advocates for flavourful, organic, local flour and bread making in communities throughout Scotland.

Flour to the People

Flour to the People is a response to the lack of access to good food that many people experienced when just-in-time supply chains were disrupted in March 2020 and a way of supporting more people in Scotland to enjoy local flour.

The project involves:

  • installing a second cyclone mill at Scotland The Bread, allowing them to double round-the-clock production of flour milled from nutritious grain grown in Fife;
  • delivering a series of remote workshops at community food hubs throughout Scotland to support more people to bake bread with better flour and teach real breadmaking skills so that people can do it for themselves when restrictions are eased;
  • working with existing community bakeries to develop popular products and the skills to make them using Scotland The Bread flour so that people accessing food from community food providers have better options.

This project is both an urgent response to a short-term spike in demand and a blueprint for a more resilient food system involving short distances and human relationships between producers and consumers.

The Flour to the People project pilots a number of innovative approaches:

  • technology: the first low-energy Zentrofan cyclone mill of its kind in the UK, installed in 2017 and since upgraded, will be joined by a similar mill to double round-the-clock automatic production of nutrient-rich flour.
  • society: the mobile bakery will pass on information and skills so that communities can start their own bakeries and be less dependent on distant supplies.
  • nutrition: uniquely among mills, all our flour is tested for nutrient density: fewer slices of more satisfying bread takes pressure off budgets and belts.
  • scale: we’ll scale up by replication: inspiring, equipping and certifying other local soil-to-slice networks in the healthy, resilient and environmentally sustainable food system of the future.

Participatory plant breeding research

We had the pleasure of co-hosting a professional internship placement for Tara Wight – a PhD student working on crop sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Tare explored the potential for participatory seed selection processes in Scotland that involve stakeholders from all aspects of the local grain system. Her aim was to use the collaborative grain selection to provide an opportunity to bring together a wide range of people to learn from each other, empower people at every stage of the grain system, and get everyone involved in shaping the development of our own local grain varieties in Scotland.

You can read more about the background to her project in her blog post. Tara would like to hear from stakeholders involved in grain production in Scotland. To get in touch, please send her an email at: tara.wight@ed.ac.uk