A Slice of the Bakery
By Matthew Harrowsmith (with Sandy Foley)
Busy with bread: for me, these three words convey Newton Dee Bakery. In this Camphill Community workshop, co-workers and villagers, like salt and yeast, team up to turn flour into dough, and dough into loaves of bread, bread, bread.
At 2 p.m. I put on an apron, wear a hat, and wash my hands---a 3-step prelude that prompts me to shape the French Sourdough and the Sunflower Seed. Then, I pack the bread for Beannachar and for the shop: the round Spanish, for example, goes into a big bag, while the Wheat-and-Rye goes into a medium bag. Through this simple process, I help preserve the life of every loaf. At 3 p.m. I refresh the Sourdough starter; this means I add a delicate balance of warm water and scoops of rye to its ferment. By the time I finish, the clock exclaims, “Tea break!”
Key ingredients infuse our food with their organic essence. Our bread glows at having been made with bleach-free flour from Doves Farm. When you taste our pizza, you trace in the tinned tomatoes, and in the passata, and in the light cheddar a journey from Glasgow’s Green City to Bieldside. Vegetables that enrich our savoury pies tell a story about the harvest in Lembas.
Essentials aside, my encounters with people in the shop also animate my week. When Mrs. Wood asks “Do you have a joke for me?” I happily say “Yes”. At 4 p.m. I switch off the till; I like checking the receipt and its tally of customers and total sales. Later, I brush and wipe the empty shelves on whose hooks I hang the wooden labels: Tuesday’s Spelt, for instance, or Wednesday’s 7-Grain. Lastly, I erase the writing on the board, as if by this act I leave my invisible mark: “Matthew has been here.”
Roles and responsibilities vary for everyone. Picture “doing The Early”: against a backdrop of birdsong, beneath a sometimes still-starry sky, Clara and a co-worker enter the bakery before 6 in the morning. Other co-workers arrive at 8 a.m. so as to finish collectively the remaining tasks: kneading the dough, preparing the pizza, placing in the oven the trays of tins. The villagers who come at 9 a.m. know well their jobs. Lisa inquires if you’re all right; then she launches upon the washing up. Cameron, sweeping away, commands you to grow up. Afternoons emit a similar aura. In a joyful-yellow turtleneck Erol claims he’s feeling good about sweeping the larder. Who else but Gordon, with his basket of bread, says, “It’s getting late!”
Yes, it’s getting late. As the years fly by, transformations, minor or major, continue to occur within myself and within the bakery. In the past, I’d seek help in steering “Noah” across the floors. Now, I alone manuoever my favorite cleaning machine. If saying good-bye to an old co-worker brings me to a state of sadness, then meeting a new co-worker gives me a glimpse into a potential friendship. All in all, alongside the bakery ghost, I confess: I am simply “in loaf” with the bakery.