Friday, October 14, 2011

Saskatoon's First Community Bakery...How it happened...

Welcome to the first day of The Three Sisters at Nestor's Bakery! 
How did this happen, you ask?  Well!  Let us tell you our (somewhat long-winded) story...

It all began with an idea in Keith Jorgenson's head.  Keith is the founder and executive director of New Community Youth Development Corporation, a not for profit focusing on training and educating youth out of school by using social enterprise projects.  YDC (and Keith) have been successful in creating micro-businesses that train and employ young people out of school (and usually involved in the criminal justice system) and provide an important service to the community, all at the same time generating its own funding. 

But this idea was about feeding people... 
What if we trained young people how to bake healthy foods?  And then we sold this food at cost to people in low income communities? 

Yes, a good idea, but how would you make that happen without some significant money or funding source, a bakery, bakers, buyers, buy in, a place to sell, etc. etc...

And sometimes, people are just meant to meet each other... such is the case of Audrey Matushewski and Keith...  they got to know each other when Keith would buy lunch from Audrey at Nestor's Bakery, across the street from where he previously worked...  Keith told Audrey about his idea, and she offered use of the bakery for his project!

Now, where to find a baker?  Well, who can manage a project, keep young people in line, produce, organize, sell, and keep things sane?  As the saying goes, behind every idea is the wife that makes it happen (or something like that!).  Carmen and Keith, always willing to take on a challenge together, created the "Better Bread Box" program out of Nestor's Bakery.  Every two weeks, they headed to the bakery with grocery bags and young people in tow for two afternoons of baking healthy, whole wheat, low sugar, low oil baking that they presold in boxes of $20.  After the baking, they boxed and organized the delivery, and then delivered of all of these boxes of baking, including providing baking at cost to a local mission and not for profits in the neighbourhood. 

The baking program generated so much interest (over 400 members in the first week on facebook and up to 80 boxes of baking orders every two weeks - that's 300 loaves of bread alone!) that the bread box model was no longer sustainable and staff were getting burnt out. 

What now?  Well, Audrey suggested buying the bakery so she could retire. 

So, after exploring some ways that could happen, YDC took ownership of Nestor's Bakery on September 15, 2011.

Nestor's Bakery still operates and runs as it always did, and will continue to provide quality baking and deli products to Saskatchewan. We have added a new line of baking, based on the successful recipes used by the Better Bread Box, called the Three Sisters, which is a healthy, whole wheat line of baking focusing on small batches and artisanal and local ingredients and ways of baking.  We train and mentor young people at the bakery and provide them with a salary and/or commercial cooking high school credits. 

What's in the future for this community endeavour?  Here are some of the changes that will be happening:
- a cafe in the front of the bakery
- fundraising "pop up" bake sales for schools and non profits
- continuation of the better bread box program
- providing low cost healthy baking to the community
- commercial cooking credits for young people working in the bakery through the YDC alternative school
- partnerships with local organizations and businesses

Baking for a better community,

Three Sisters and Nestors Staff and Management
Audrey Matushewski - manager
Carmen Dyck - manager

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