What do you get when you combine a life-long love of bread-making, a desire to make a difference, and friends who keep saying, "You ought to sell this stuff"?
You get an experiment called Noonday Bread.
Our town was missing a vital part of what towns have had for centuries - a local bread baker. We knew we weren’t going to quit our day jobs any time soon, but in talking with friends the idea came together of offering a pre-order bread service. We’d sell the bread ahead of time so we’d know exactly how much we needed to bake. We’d hit our rented space at a commercial kitchen early on Saturday morning, then get to the pick-up location by noon.
The juices got flowing and we began to talk about all of the benefit such an enterprise could provide beyond fabulous bread: educational opportunities for students, sweat equity opportunities for our children, and financial resources for causes we believe in.
This project was always about learning as much as possible from a small-scale business. We've milked A LOT of learning out of Noonday Bread over the years. When we ended, it had been seven years since we sent out an exploratory survey to some of our friends before building the website and doing a soft launch. Baking primarily on Saturdays during the school year, we baked 180 days and served up thousands of “Bundles of Joy,” as our brown-bagged bread became known.
We still love making bread and we adore our faithful Bread Fans. But most things in life come to an end at some point. We wanted to go out when we still loved it and when our Bread Fans still wanted more. We baked our last loaves in this iteration of Noonday Bread in December 2016.
What we most enjoyed about Noonday Bread was beautiful mounds of dough being turned into enticing loaves through the choreography of a happy team backed up by a grooving soundtrack. We loved introducing hard-to-get varieties of bread to people who otherwise have to buy plastic-wrapped lies in supermarkets. We loved meeting hundreds of people in our community that we wouldn't have otherwise known. We loved partnering with local merchants to bring our bread to our fans and our fans into the partners’ stores.
And we loved our crew. Since they were in elementary school, our boys have woken up earlier on Saturday than on school days. They've washed hundreds of dishes, cracked thousands of eggs, shaped thousands of loaves of bread. After those first couple of years, we got to work with many friends and Bread Fans in the kitchen - too many to name. We developed a lot of gluten together.