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Bread Together is a grassroots co-operative developed out of nearly ten years of bread making at the Wesley in Chester city centre.

We provide an open, inclusive, empowering and fun space for individuals of any age to meet and make Bread Together.

Our Bread Together space is a space out of the everyday, where we develop our skills, have fun, enable participation, work equally and share ideas. In January 2020 we set up a micro bakery; a professional, brand new kitchen where we can bake our delicious bread to sell to the people of Chester and beyond. Running alongside our community baking sessions, the micro bakery is a fantastic learning space where we make top quality bread, with the aim of selling to markets and businesses.

Very sadly, at the moment, we have had to stop all our community activities due to COVID-19. We are now just in the first steps of planning how to operate our microbakery again, and Laura, our new project manager, will be starting work on this soon.

Please get in touch if you’d like any further information, or follow us on social media – we will provide updates on this when we have news to share.

Instagram.com/bread_together

twitter.com/chesterbread

Email us: microbakery@breadtogether.org.uk

Our story & news

*Update September 2020* Very sadly we’ve had to cease completely all our community activities due to COVID-19. We are now just in the first steps of planning how to operate our microbakery again, and Laura, our new project manager, will be starting work on this soon.  Bread Together welcomes everyone who’d like to join in with our activities. We have missed all our activities during lockdown, and our core group are currently thinking up new ways for us to work together.

You can read some of our story here in an article written to celebrate Real Bread Week in 2020 https://www.sustainweb.org/jelliedeel/articles/feb20_together_we_rise_bread_together/

Why Bread Together?

We spent ages deciding on our name, wanting it to sum up what makes bread making at the Wesley special (and we decided it was because we’re making bread together). We wanted to express our communal identity through a logo, and asked one of our regular bread makers, Penny, to wield her usual magic with her multi-coloured pens and design skills. Key to our logo was the use of as many colours as possible, to express the inclusivity which is Bread Together, and the diverse range of skills and life experiences which everyone brings to our bread making sessions.

Here’s Penny with a round of her wholemeal rolls. Penny consulted with us lots as she developed her design for the logo, bringing in drafts which we all discussed. She ended up creating this fab design which we love for its vibrancy and for the circle shape too.

We loved our regular bread making sessions, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 am-ish onwards, at the Wesley Church Centre, as anyone could pop by, contribute about £2/£3 donation towards costs, and after about 2 hours or so have made bread products to take home. We are planning new ways to enjoy our activities in the future in the light of COVID-19 restrictions.

We always enjoy welcoming different visitors.  In April 2019 we welcomed David Briggs, the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire who enjoyed eating a fresh out of the oven pizza and helped out too.

In conjunction with the Wesley we enjoyed two bread making workshops with a local school. We also ran a series of bespoke themed workshops at the Hawarden Farm Estate Shop, where we made specialities such as Yorkshire Spiced Bread. Often the evenings there were sunny, so it was possible to sit outside to enjoy the snacks provided by Hawarden Farm Estate Shop whilst the bread was proving, and on a couple of occasions we made the bread outside too (also appreciated by the local raven who flew off with a Middle Eastern bread ring!).

A video, thanks to @canteencreate, done as a test shoot this summer in Hawarden. We’re making enriched festive bread, challah….

 

The bakers

Little by little we’ll introduce ourselves, and tell you why we enjoy bread making….

‘I feel happy and jolly, it’s therapeutic and rewarding to get the right textures and to meet friends and other people. I’m visually impaired and I get a lot out of bread making. In my spare time I love walking my dog, Inca, volunteering, and going to pop concerts – I haven’t got a favourite pop group – plus I enjoy going to Storyhouse to see films and I like playing bowls. Taking part in Bread Together, it’s an achievement, challenging but enjoyable.’ Chris

My name is Sarah and I am 25 years old. I live in a house with some help from my carers. I started bread making as a new skill for my Gold D of E and have continued doing it I got my Gold D of E. I like bread making as I meet with other people and I really enjoy the smell and taste of fresh bread. I love being active, I swim, row, tenpin bowl, play badminton. I have a voluntary job at a community centre and at the hospital cafe.’

‘Bread making is great for me as it is voluntary so we are not under pressure to attend each week. It’s wonderful to help the guys and see the smiles on their faces. My working life revolved around greeting cards and the happiness they bring. I’m a big sports fan, especially cricket, football and rugby league.’ Michael

‘I love seeing friends and making new friends, baking bread and I like making everything with us all at Bread Together. Friends Forever! I also love reading, puzzles and spellings, and I love exams and assessments.’ Stephie

‘I like doing things all by myself, without any help. Making bread helps me to be more independent. Also it is fun and I can be around people having laughs and jokes. It feels like I’m part of the team. I am a cheerful, outgoing person. I always been. Few years back I have serious road accident and it affected my health. I have spent couple years in hospitals. No one expected I will survive, but I am a fighter and never give up. Now I have lovely family and the only thing is I wish I could walk again to enjoy life even more with my lovely girls.’ Peter

‘I love bread making as I love making bread!! ! Plus I really like sports, especially watching boxing on TV. I support Chester FC and Liverpool.’ Steve

‘I like the way the dough feels when I knead it, I feel proud when my loaf comes out of the oven and I like the company of the people in the group. Other things I like include volunteering, listening to music – Irish traditional and musicals, I also like doing wordsearch and playing on my X-Box.’ Jonathon

Martina Ŕeháková was our microbakery project manager from July 2019 until March 2020, when she returned to the Czech Republic just after lockdown which meant we couldn’t say goodbye and THANK YOU VERY MUCH to her in person. She contributed SO much to our bread making community and to setting up our microbakery. 

Here she tells us a little about why she loves bread making (and our microbakery too):

‘Community bread making just helped me not to go crazy literally. We have been relocated to Chester with my family during Summer and I have been with my one-year old son at home alone. I found out, that all activities had been closed before summer holiday and I hadn’t known anybody in Chester. After few weeks of desperate loneliness with a beloved toddler we were very glad to find bread baking sessions at the Wesley. We have appreciated warm welcome by the group of nice people as well as the craft of bread baking. That’s why we became regular attendants and enjoyed each session.

‘I am always looking for some activity we can enjoy together with my son – not only doing some kids activities because of my son but something both of us can enjoy and be enriched by. And bread baking was perfect match. Not only the process of baking the bread from working with flour, kneading the dough and taking your tasty bread home – which I think is a big lesson learned for my son, but meeting new people and especially learning new skills, patience, learn about people life stories and sharing your experience – all this in splendid smell of freshly baked bread, focaccia, pizza, rolls, buns, knots, calzone….

‘For me the microbakery a synonym of perfect connection of work and hobby. It is not only about making bread. First of all, it is about work with people, communicating with customers as well with bakers. But there is business part of it as well, sorting different kind of things in the kitchen, in the stock, on rotas, in the orders etc. I enjoy how colourful the work is and hearing positive feedbacks of happy bakers and satisfied customers.’ Martina

 Helen Carrington is our Chief Baker! A former patissier, her many skills include looking after hens, horses and dogs, plus working with adults living with (dis)abilities.

It’s been ace to see the microbakery getting through its test stages and now making bread for real.

Helen shares here a little of what it means to her:

‘Our micro bakery sessions are the highlight of my week.  Getting together with a group of people and producing tasty, healthy bread is a great experience for everyone.  We have great fun chatting and learning lots together.’

A regular baker at one of our community sessions tells us about her involvement with Bread Together:

‘Bread making truly is the highlight of my week and one son or the other is always asking me if we are going this week. We’ve been attending the group regularly since 2015 when my eldest was about 18 months old and I am still there now with my younger boy who is 3. I’ve a suspicion if he could reach a little higher he could measure out the ingredients and mix the dough up all by himself! We first came to the sessions after being asked by a neighbour. I am so glad she was persuasive!

‘Actually I attend bread making much more for me than for my children. Although it’s an incredibly child friendly experience the majority of those attending are adults. It an opportunity for me to have some much needed adult conversation and what conversations we have – everything from attending raves, to composting, to bird watching, to high brow politics. There is something in these conversations akin to the sorts of conversations that happen on long car journeys.
‘Working alongside each other brings people out of their shells in a wonderful way. There have been many occasions when I arrive feeling fed up or even harassed after a difficult school run and just walking into the room alive with laughter sets me right again. Often we sing too. It’s so good to have people who ask after us if we miss a week.
‘Many of the adults attending have disabilities of some kind and it’s so wonderful to hear of their experiences and ideas. It is humbling to understand how different their lives are from mine and yet to enjoy this experience together. It’s such a remarkable opportunity for my children to learn to interact with such a diverse range of people.

‘The process of making the dough into its final shapes holds a great fascination for me and is an outlet for my artistic side which I rarely manage to make time for in any other way these days. We’ve made all sorts of vehicles (bulldozers, boats, racing cars) and creatures (owls, bats, foxes) to eat for “Wednesday tea” which quickly became a weekly family ritual. Now my older son is at school he sends me in with requests – hearts for Valentine’s day this week. The loaves last us the week in the freezer and if we miss a week we really miss the bread which just tastes great.
‘Bread Together is such a blessing both in the act of the making, the fellowship it brings and in the results that we carefully bring home like precious treasure!’

Contact us

Our community bread making sessions plus our bespoke bread making sessions are currently suspended for the time being. We will be in touch with our plans.

Laura, our new project manager, started working for Bread Together in September 2020 (funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council) and she usually works on Mondays and Wednesdays.

She is planning the next steps for our microbakery – if you would like more information on this, please email : microbakery@breadtogether.org.uk