On bread and resilience

On bread and resilience

by Josiah Meldrum

We’ve started selling bread from the Penny Bun Bakehouse. Just the special ‘Hodmedod’ loaf for now, but if it works maybe more in time.

We’ve known and supplied John Spillings, founder of The Penny Bun Bakehouse in Lowestoft, for years. Having been a chef in Michelin star restaurants across the country, he discovered a love of bread and baking while working for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

Johnny moved back home to Suffolk ten years ago to open the bakery, and because of his background in hospitality it made sense for him to bake for local hotels, restaurants, pubs, delicatessens and to do a few regular farmers’ markets.

His bread is fantastic! And so of course the Penny Bun Bakehouse went from strength to strength.

Until mid-March, when over-night almost all Johnny’s customers had to close their doors. The bakery furloughed most of its team, focused on pre-orders for collection in Southwold and began supplying shops. Johnny has worked incredibly hard to keep the bakery going, to completely transform his business model. And there have been some definite positives; not least collaborations with other local businesses that might not otherwise have happened and introducing a whole new set of customers to his wonderful bread.

But we know it can’t have been easy.

Similar stories of resilience and incredible effort in the face of extraordinary circumstances are being repeated all over the country. It has made us think a lot more carefully about how we might work with other local businesses, people whose ethos is aligned with our own and who are producing great food.

The last few months have been extraordinarily difficult, and terrible for those who have lost friends and family. We undoubtedly face more difficult times in coming months; if one thing is certain it’s that there will be no return to ‘normal’. So let’s push for some positive change.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were to build a more resilient, more collaborative food system that serves us all better and leaves a lighter environmental footprint. Some of that will take policy change (we’re hoping for a strong and inclusive National Food Strategy and an Agriculture Bill (Act) that connects to that strategy and puts agroecology, health and food access front and centre), but there are things we can do ourselves, immediately, to set the tone.

Offering Johnny’s Hodmedod loaf (so called because it’s made with our organic naked barley flakes, YQ flour and wholegrain quinoa) is a small start. To be clear we’re not doing this just to help the Penny Bun Bakehouse out, they've come through so much already, they're going to get through this without us (though if we do help then so much the better). We’re doing this because we think it’ll help us both, because the bread is fantastic and because building relationships creates opportunities for wider change. Connecting fields, to mills, to bakers, to you. 

To buy the Hodmedod loaf just place your order including bread by 3pm on Monday for baking and dispatch on Wednesday, delivery on Thursday. Or order by 3pm Tuesday for Friday delivery.



Josiah Meldrum
Josiah Meldrum

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