I am a national award-winning artisan baker with a passion for 'real' bread - sourdough is my speciality.
Not only is 'real' bread (i.e. containing only natural ingredients and made without the addition of additives such as dough improvers or preservatives) much tastier than its mass-produced conterparts, it's also healthier, more easlily digestable and more environmentally sustainable.
I also have a heart for disadvantaged young people and in a previous role as a head baker have learned that a communiuty bakery environment is an ideal environment in which they can acquire work-based skills, work experience and life skills. Baking is also therapeutic and calming and the sense of achievement gained builds self esteem and self confidence.
My ulltimate vision therefore is to create an organic community bakery-cafe in my home town of Darlington, producing real bread, pizzas and other baked products. I want to promote the real bread cause at the bakery and throughout the town, as well as championing local organic produce and create a sense of community involvement in the project.
Other local producers of organic, sustainable food will be very much involved and will have the opportunity to promote and sell their produce at the bakery.
At the bakery we will provide valuable work-based skills and work experience to vulnerable young adults, referred to us from various local community groups.
During the Coronavirus lockdown there has been a massive upsurge of interest in home baking, particularly in sourdough bread. But sourdough can be tricky for the inexperienced, and as a professional baker I've received numerous requests for help and advice from local home bakers. We will also therefore be providing breadmaking classes at Bakerman.
I have already set up a social enterprise as a Community Interest Company (registered as Baker People CIC). The first stage of the Bakerman project will be to set up a 'mico-bakery' in order to prove and refine the concept. This will involve acquiring and equipping small premises in Darlington town centre in order to supply the local community with high quality bread on a commercial basis. Once this is up and running I'll then begin providing the home-baking courses and will develop the structured learning programmes for the disadvantaged young adults I'll be tutoring. We'll also start engaging with other local organic food producers to discuss the various ways they can be involved.
At this point we'll be ready to begin planning the roll-out of the Bakerman bakery-cafe.
We will use the money raised from this project to set-up and 'kit-out' our new community micro-bakery. This will involve buying a new spiral dough mixer, a large bakery fridge, work benches and lots of smaller pieces of equipment we need before we can start to bake (i.e. scales, proving baskets, baking trays, racks, etc.)