From field to mill: sourdough baker revives bonds between community, farming and food.
Rupert Dunn is rebuilding the link between people and their food by growing and milling grain in the same community where he bakes it into bread. At Torth Y Tyr, a self-described "peasant bakery" outside St. David's in Pembrokeshire, Rupert is already making sourdough pizza and running breadmaking workshops, generating an income that will help build the community owned business into a fully-fledged bakery in 2018.
He's inspired by the French tradition of "paysan boulanger" or "peasant baker", in which small farmers grow local strains of wheat without artificial inputs, stone mill it in their communities and then bake it into nutritious wood-fired, sourdough bread. "We're looking at bringing diversity back, getting people back on to the land and looking at producing food as a way of life," he said. "It's not just a technique, it's a feeling."
Rupert, 33, who previously worked for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, decided to test the market for his bread by baking weekly batches of 35 loaves in his home oven, starting four years ago. At the same time, a local farmer gave him a small plot of land where he grew "heritage" wheat that is suited to local conditions.
Now, aided by a £140,000 government grant to create jobs in coastal areas, plus £12,000 in crowd funding and a matching grant, Rupert is planning a new bakery that will be built in old shipping containers in 2018 and will be able to produce 150 loaves a day. He's also expecting to increase his wheat acreage from 8.5 acres to 25 acres of rented fields.
He's motivated by concerns over carbon emissions and chemical inputs from commercial agriculture as well as a desire to revive bonds between community, farming and food. "We're reconnecting people with our food," he said.
Find out more about Rupert's journey so far at: www.torthytir.co.uk.
Lead photo by Melinda Young-Stuart. Creative Commons.