Big News!

We’re very excited to announce the news today that we have secured our very own premises, which we will be working to convert into a permanent home. Stoneham Bakehouse has been operating for just over two years; with our bread being baked in a number of ovens across the Poets’ Corner area, and this move is big news. Situated on Stoneham Road, right next to our friends The Hive, the space is ideally located to fulfil our dream of bringing a bread oven to the heart of the area, and enable us to continue our mission to use breadmaking to nourish the community.

Getting a space is the first step on this journey, and for the next step we’re asking for your help. Do you have a skill which may assist our refit? Perhaps you’re able to volunteer time to paint? Or maybe you know a local tradesman who might be able to help? We’d like to hear from you. Get in contact through this site, email, Facebook or Twitter, or by phoning 07786927110 and talk to Simon.

It’s important at this point to say a big thank you to everyone who have helped us get this far. You are all stars; and make it possible to launch into this next chapter of Stoneham Bakehouse knowing that we are doing something which will grow and nourish the community for years to come.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

With the recent cold weather, last weekend’s Winter Market, and a Festive Bread workshop on Monday at The Hive; it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This time of the year is a time to be with loved ones, to reconnect with friends, to spend time with neighbours. It is with this in mind that the Bakehouse is closing for the festive period.

bakingSo, Friday 16th will be our last Friday bake of the year. We’ll also do a special extra bake on Tuesday 20th December, with collection from The Hive between 3-4pm. This will coincide with the Hive’s Festive Film event, and will mark the end of 2016 for the Bakehouse. We’ll be reopening early in the New Year, and are looking forward to an exciting 2017.


Bread Means All Things to All People

I was lucky enough to got to a Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference the other day. One of the speakers was a poet, Dean Atta, who read his fabulous heartfelt poems on mental health issues. We got talking, and he told me about the performance poet Simon Mole, and his poem Making Bread.

Simon loves making bread, it means a lot to him.

Making bread allows me to do nothing at all for large chunks of time when the dough is resting or rising, but for once this lack of activity doesn’t worry me. I am doing something vital and necessary. I am making bread.

Bread means a lot to me too. Making it has been one way I’ve worked out can help me to manage my own depression and anxiety.  Bread (and making it) nourishes us in so many different ways. It means many things to many different people. What does it mean to you?

Nourishing our Community in Different Ways

A weekend or two ago, we had a stall at The Hive’s Christmas Market. Like our stalls at the Farmers’ Market, we had a great selection of bread on offer; bread made by our volunteer workforce. One difference to stalls in the past was the fact that we had some new, young, volunteers to help sell our wares. Along with their support officer from Brighton & Hove YOS, two young people were working as part of a reparative project. As a community business and social enterprose, this kind of project very much fits our ethos. Through giving these people a chance to interact with the community in a positive way, we’re helping to promote integration. fullsizerender3

As the Bakehouse develops we want to involve more people like this. We should be nourishing our community; not just through the bread you buy, with the processes involved in its production and sale.

Anxious and On Air

On Monday last week, I was interviewed by the guys at People’s Republic of Brighton & Hove Radio. Their radio station has been set up to share, and make people aware of, the plethora of amazing community events and organisations across our city. It’s always great to get our message on air; the message of baking bread with members of your community being good for our own and the community’s wellbeing. Whether you’re anxious, lonely, or just a bit low, bread can help.

You can listen to the interview here (around about the 44 minute point); I’m told I sounded enthusiastic and confident, and I hope I manage to convey the fact that Stoneham Bakehouse is different from a standard bakery. Yes, we bake good Real Bread, but we do so in order to support the wellbeing of the bakers and the community. What was unsaid in the interview, or at least only eluded to, was my anxiety on the day. It’s amazing how you can act calm and relaxed (or at least a reasonable impression of it); yet just before, inside, you’re worried and doubting your abilities to do the job. I’ve had to do a growing amount of this kind of interview recently, but I still get anxious about it. It’s silly as I know the story, it’s my story, but I nonetheless get worried and doubt that I’ll be able to say sensible things. I’ve managed to get better at it, and acting confident helps. As they say “fake it til you make it“. However, the funny feeling in the tummy, the racing heart, is still evident on occasions.  Luckily, baking bread can help me to reset the system, to redress the balance; the calming nature of working with the dough allowing me to return to a normal state.

Why Community Connections Are So Important

Stoneham Bakehouse is a Community Supported Bakery, a social enterprise, a Community Interest Company. The whole idea was started by me, Simon, to (in part) help me improve my mental health. But, it’s about so much more than that now. It’s the community’s bakery, it’s helping to support the community’s wellbeing by giving the chance for people to make connections.

One of NEF’s five ways to wellbeing is connect. There’s a lot to be said for having connections with people.  When I was feeling at my lowest, being on the school run was a place I feared, because I may have to speak to someone. But, as I made small connections over the days and weeks, that very thing helped me to feel better.

We’re excited to start the next cohort of children on the PlayDough programme this week. Over the last year or so we’ve provided a chance for over 40 children at the local Junior school to make connections and benefit from the therapeutic nature of working with dough. Children, who may find making friends or working with others tricky, have been brought together to bake bread. Playdough has helped me to make connections, and makes me happyBeing able to make connections with others, to know other people like what you do, is really important to ones self-esteem. If you feel appreciated by others its easier to appreciate yourself.

So, I’d like to say thank you to all those people who do great things in our community. The refuse men who empty the park bins, the guy who helps kids cross the road to school each day, the teachers and TAs at the local schools, Caroline and the team who run Hove Luncheon Club, the Friends groups in our parks, the countless other people who offer something to the community. It’s connections with the folk around us that makes us a community, and in connecting we’re helping the community’s wellbeing too.

No Farmers’ Market, But Baking on Friday

IMG_3795Unfortunately, due to the predicted weather on Saturday, the Farmers’ Market in Stoneham Park has been cancelled. We don’t want to leave you with nowhere to get bread this weekend, so we’ll be doing a special Friday bake on the 19th August. Get your orders in before lunchtime tomorrow (Thursday), then collect from The Hive between 2-3pm.

July Update

Stoneham Bakehouse has continued to grow over the last few months, with more places to buy our bread, and a series of successful workshops for those who want to learn how to bake their own loaves. We have also been lucky over the last few months to receive funding for a number of projects, and some of these will be starting in the autumn. Read more about how you can get involved in this update.

We're taking a break(1)As you know Stoneham Bakehouse has the wellbeing of the community as a central ethos, and that includes the bakers who produce our great community baked bread. With this in mind we will be taking our summer break at the start of August (1-14 August). The break will give the team time to recharge the batteries, and prepare for the hard work ahead of us.

IMG_3795Plot 22 is a fabulous community allotment on the Weald Allotment site north of Old Shoreham Road. We’ve recently run a couple of workshops there (funded by a Good Food Grant from the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership), baking in their wood fired oven. In September we will be running a couple more workshops focussing on the way baking and gardening can be beneficial to wellbeing. If you’re interested, please check out Plot 22’s website for details.

We’re in the process of drawing up a menu of workshops for the autumn months, and this will be published as soon as the last details are confirmed.  Do let us know if there are workshops you’d be interested in seeing us offer.

Finally, as Stoneham Bakehouse gets bigger, with more of the community wanting to be involved (whether as bakers or bread buyers), and as our work in the community using breadmaking to support wellbeing is increasingly becoming recongnised by others, we’re looking to expand. Our current ‘itinerant bakers’ status, baking in my home, Pizzaface, and The Hive, has been a great way to get started, but as we look to the future we need our own space. Somewhere where we can bring a bread oven to the heart of our community.

We’ve been keeping our eyes open and ears to the ground, but so far we haven’t found the right thing. So, we’re looking for a helping hand from our community. Do you know of a space you can see us pop up in? Have you a link to someone who works in commercial property? We’d love to hear from you with your ideas.