Winter Lockdown plan

Thank you for your patience over the last couple of weeks. We’re happy to announce we’ll be re-opening on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th of February and pre-orders are being taken online from today.

Under the current Covid restrictions, we will be trading as follows:

  • We will be open Friday afternoon 12 – 4pm and Saturday morning 9am – 1pm.
  • All orders must be placed online as click-and-collect.
  • The cut-off for orders is midnight Wednesday evening.
  • Orders are collected in 20 minute time slots, limited to 10 people per slot.
  • You must wear a mask covering your nose and mouth when visiting our shop. If you cannot wear a mask, you can leave a note when ordering so we can accommodate this.

Additionally:

  • We will not be baking substantially more than is ordered, so please order everything that you need in advance. There won’t be extra bread on the shelves for now.
  • Baking equipment, flour and other ingredients are available on click-and-collect.
  • Other shop items can be bought when you collect.
  • Lunches are on hold for now.

Within Loaf we will be operating as follows:

  • The bakers have split into two smaller teams working one fortnight on, one fortnight off. Should one team be unable to work, the other team can cover.
  • Val will be running the shop, distanced from the bakers.
  • Pete is working from home managing orders and answering your emails, ready to cover Val if needed.
  • We will all be tested regularly where possible.
  • FFP2 / N95 masks will be worn in the building and when serving customers.

We will review this at the start of each month, with the aim of resuming our normal service when we can.

As with any new system built on the fly in this pandemic, there will be teething troubles, so thanks in advance for your patience! If you have any problems or questions, please let us know. Pete is monitoring the email every day and will get back to you.

Why are we doing this?

This is possibly too much detail, but we’re all figuring this out as we go and it might be useful to other businesses.

The severity of the new coronavirus strain and the risk it poses to our health and our jobs caused us to take stock after Christmas. Last year we relied on our industrial air extraction, hygiene systems, and maintaining a “Loaf work bubble” to keep us safe. With an increased transmission risk, however, it’s clear we need to do more.

The Loaf building is effectively a maze of corridors. Establishing a Covid-secure workplace with our full complement of staff is next to impossible, so we needed to reduce the number of people in the building at one time. The new system sees a maximum of three people spread across different rooms.

A safer working environment reduces our capacity and impacts the business, so we’re able to use the government’s furlough scheme. This is much more flexible this lockdown, allowing for part-time and short-term furloughs. This means we can rota the furloughs as teams and should one team test positive, pull the other back in without affecting production.

We were also getting more and more concerned about the queue which reached ridiculous lengths before Christmas. While most of you have been distancing, the amount of time you’re standing there increases the risk of transmission, especially on a windless day, so we need to do what we can to reduce that. It’s also horrible standing out there in the winter!

When you place your order you can select a time slot to collect. Each 20-minute slot is limited to 10 customers so you shouldn’t have to wait too long with too many people. Obviously if you’re late we’ll still serve you, but if you can keep to your slot it will help keep everyone safe.

If all goes to plan we should come out of this with everyone employed and the business in the black, ready for whatever this pandemic throws at us next!

Loaf’s Christmas Newsletter

A Big Thank You from Loaf

As one of the more challenging years in recent memory draws to a close we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all our friends, customers and associates for your support. 

Despite temporarily losing our cookery school, the heart of Loaf, we are ending the year financially in the black and with a cautiously optimistic outlook for 2021. That is ultimately down to you all buying our bread, pastries and lunches throughout the year. You queued for hours in the rain, forgave us the glitches as we overhauled our business on the fly, and gave us the positive feedback we needed to keep going through some exhausting times. 

Some of you have let us know that our food has been a small highlight during some dark and troubling moments. Please know that it goes both ways, and knowing that what we do matters to people is priceless. We have always called Loaf a “community bakery” and this year has really shown us what that means, how we can support the community and how the community can support us.

Fighting food poverty

A big change for Loaf this year was actively supporting those charities and organisations at the frontline of helping people affected by the pandemic. Mostly this has involved baking extra bread for schools and foodbanks to distribute to those in need. We asked for your financial help to pay for ingredients, and when donations dwarfed our costs we passed the money on. We’ve raised over £6,000, which has gone to the B30 Foodbank and Anawim women’s refuge. Both have asked us to pass on their thanks.

We will continue to raise money for local charities, aiming to work with them in the long term once our cookery school reopens. We’ll choose our charity for the first quarter of 2021 in the new year and we always welcome suggestions of other organisations to support. 

Building the future

The pandemic threatened to overshadow some exciting news for the future of Loaf. In April we formally announced our plans to buy and develop land between the British Oak and Hunts Road, joining with the Bike Foundry, Artefact Projects and local housing coops as Stirchley Cooperative Development. We’ve spent this year working with council officers to meet planning criteria and will be going before the planning committee in the new year. If all goes smoothly (and we’ve learned that it seldom does, but fingers crossed!), we should be moving into a custom-built new bakery and cookery school in Autumn 2022. 

An important part of this process was getting comments from the public in support of our plans. The response exceeded everyone’s expectations, raising some eyebrows among those familiar with these things. Planning applications are not supposed to get that sort of feedback! So another big thanks from all of us.   

Okay 2021, we’re ready for you

This year has really brought home the value of being a workers cooperative. Our non-hierarchical structure means we have an equal and collective responsibility for Loaf, sharing the burdens alongside the rewards. Collective decision making also means the pressure has not been focused on one person, and we’ve been able to help and support each other in making some difficult decisions. Nine heads really are better than one, and we’ll be putting them together again in the new year. 

Our Christmas shutdown is for three weeks this year. After our standard fortnight holiday we’ll be spending this extra week taking stock and planning for what promises to be another challenging year. We want to be less reactive to events and be ready for whatever the year throws at us, whether it’s six months of lockdown or a vaccinated wonderland. 

We hope you have the best Christmas possible.

Nancy, Martha, Neil, Sarah, Molly, Phil, Rach, Pete & Val – Team Loaf

Loaf’s business plan for 2021

The furlough scheme allowed staff who couldn’t be viably employed to undertake training so, with generous support from Co-ops UK’s The Hive, three of us spent 8 weeks learning how to evaluate Loaf, set a full budget and write a new business plan for the Covid era.

Because we see our customers as more than simply a process of turning bread into wages, we wanted to share some of these plans with you, because we literally can’t do this without you!

In summary

Bread will always be in stock. If you come in five minutes to closing we will have something to sell you. 

More lunches for the home workers. Lunches are proving more popular and we’re looking to extend our range. 

More sweets and cakes. Plenty of new goodies are coming out of the bakery and we’re developing a range of vegan cakes. 

Chances to be involved in building the future of Loaf!It takes a village, etc!

In a bit more detail

It’s become very clear that it’s not going to be possible to safely run our cookery school to the high standards we and you demand during this pandemic. But teaching skills is a core part of Loaf and we are determined to bring it back when we’re able.

In the spring, assuming restrictions allow, we plan to run small classes aimed at clearing existing bookings and vouchers* and for single households. The, over the summer, we will start researching and developing new courses and new ways to teach. Some of this will involve trial classes will small groups which we will invite you to help us with.

The plan is that when we move into the new building in 2022 Loaf’s cookery school will be bigger and better than ever!

* And a huge thanks to those who have been able to be patient – we are so appreciative!

Because the cookery school won’t be bringing in significant income next year we need to significantly increase bakery turnover.

Since September we have been baking more, so that whenever someone comes into the shop they can get a load of bread. In the New Year we will be purchasing a new oven, something we weren’t intending to do until we moved into the new building. This will increase our production by about a third, as well as insuring us against breakdowns.

Significantly more bread is great, but we also need significantly more customers. Having a very loyal customer base is fantastic and totally kept us alive through lockdown, but it has meant we haven’t actively gone out and told people about what we offer for a long time. Over the next few months we’ll be doing leaflet drops and developing our social media presences. As a business that grew through word of mouth this is a new area for us, one we’re embracing with cautious optimism.

Charity beings at Loaf

As you’ll know, we’ve had a donation button on our online ordering page for a while now. From mid August to the end of October we raised £980, meaning so far this year we’ve raised nearly £5,000. Which is fantastic given we never tried anything like this before. We’d like to build on it.The new business plan isn’t just about earning money. As a workers co-operative we are guided by the Co-operative Values and Principles which include “concern for the community”, looking beyond our doors and seeing how we can help the society that supports us. We’re also always been called a community bakery and were already keen to explore and develop what that might mean.

We want to build connections beyond our customers and peers, with the intention of bringing baking and cookery skills to a wider range of people who might not be able to afford, or even consider, our classes. To this end we’re going to support a new charity every quarter, passing on your donations to help with their work during the pandemic and drawing attention to them in-store and online. Then when we’re able to do so, we will look to working with them more practically.

Our first charity, which we’ll be supporting through to the end of the year, is Anawim, the Birmingham centre for women in need of help based in Balsall Heath. Incidences of domestic abuse rose dramatically under lockdown and Covid-19 has impacted disadvantaged members of society the most, from mental health to food poverty. Anawim are one of many organisations working at the front line in trying circumstances and we’re proud to be helping them into the winter months.

We are looking for charities and organisations to support from January with an emphasis on those making a local impact on people’s lives who need help during the pandemic. If you would like to suggest, or work for, a potential good fit, please get in touch.

Alongside this we’re continuing give fresh bread to organisations combatting food poverty. Every week we do a special bake for the Big Feed Project who are providing free meals to anyone in need across Birmingham. And over the Autumn we’ve regularly given our unsold bread to the B30 Food Bank and Incredible Surplus (the new name for the Real Junk Food Project) and are on call for the Solidarity Kitchen when required. Should other orgs or schools require bread over the winter we feel we should be able to meet the demand.

Loaf customers donate £3750 to B30 Food Bank

When the pandemic hit and lockdown was ordered, we at Loaf were very aware that, as a workers co-operative, we have a responsibility to our community as much as ourselves. Once we had ensured our business could ride out lockdown we looked into ways we could support those groups and organisations working to combat food poverty.

The simplest solution was to proactively bake more bread, and Loaf’s bakers volunteered their time to run a special bake shift on Mondays. Over lockdown we supplied bread to B30 Food Bank, BrumTogether, Birmingham Solidarity Kitchen, the Spearhead Trust, and the primary schools in our community who were helping feed families in need.

Given we couldn’t be sure how the pandemic would affect Loaf’s income, we placed a donation button on our online shop, inviting our customers to help. The idea being we provide the labour and they cover the cost of flour and electricity for that shift.

Between May and August we distributed roughly 1,500 loaves to food poverty groups in Birmingham. But we also raised far more money than we needed, leaving a surplus of £3,750. We contacted the B30 Food Bank for advice on what to do with this money and they suggested a cash donation. Their costs have soared this year and a lump sum would really help.

As demand has lessened, Loaf have paused the volunteer bakes for now, though we still donate any unsold bread to the Food Bank. Food poverty remains something we want to help combat and we are actively looking for long-term ways to do so. Please get in touch with nancy@loafonline.co.uk if we can work with you.  

Bakery shop collections and deliveries from June 18th

As the country cautiously pokes it toe into the concept of a post-lockdown reality, with people returning to work and school, and with other shops reopening, we’re changing a few things at Loaf.

Extended opening hours!

Over the last couple of weeks requests for deliveries have reduced, and customers who have returned to work have told us they have trouble collecting during the day. We’re responding to this as follows.

We’re ceasing deliveries on Thursday and Fridays. This will enable us to make more products, reintroduce lunches, and open for longer hours.

From next week (Thurs 18th) we will be open from 12-6pm Thursday and Friday and 8.15-12pm on Saturday, giving you more time to collect your bread.

Because people are still shielding, we will keep offering free Saturday morning deliveries within a mile radius of Loaf for those unable to get to the shop. 

Please continue to place your bread orders online for collection. This means you can come at any time, avoiding a long queue at opening. Ordering through the online shop re-opens every Saturday afternoon and is the best way to secure your weekly bread. 

Lunches are back!

With more people back on Stirchley high street we’re being asked for lunches again. And so lunches we will provide!  

  • Sausage and veggie rolls – Thur-Sat from opening.
  • Tarka daal curry – Thursday from 12pm.
  • Pizza – Fridays from 12pm.

 Lunches are only available from the shop and are not available for pre-order or delivery.

Croissants every day!

We’re bringing back weekday pastries so we can offer croissants on Thursday and Friday as well as Saturday.

Bread donations raise £2,500!

Last month we added a donation button to our online shop. So far you have donated £2,500 towards us supplying food banks, schools and other local organisations with bread to alleviate food poverty. This is amazing and beyond our expectations. We will be working out our costs soon, so we can donate any surplus to where it’s needed. And we intend to continue running this programme for the foreseeable future. Thank you!

If you’re looking for more practical ways to help those in need of food during this crisis we can recommend contacting the Active Wellbeing Society who have successfully rejigged their organisation into a massive food collection and distribution network. They always need volunteers, especially for deliveries.

Thanks for your continued support and custom. We hope you are safe and well in this difficult time.

Loaf pre-orders and delivery for the Coronavirus era

In these unprecedented times, Loaf is having to reassess how we operate – just like everyone else. At the beginning of March we made the decision to shut down our cookery school, postponing all classes until we are on the other side of this, which could be anything up to a year. This is an important part of our business and to some extent it subsidises the bakery. Baking like we do is labour intensive and, compared to mass-produced bread, margins are low.

It goes without saying that keeping our team in work (we employ nine people) now and beyond COVID-19 is a major priority so we have had to do some number crunching of different scenarios to find the best options. We are also considering the safety of staff and their families, the safety of our customers and our duty to society as a whole. There is a lot to weigh up.

On the one hand we are very proud of the bread we provide and think a high quality staple food should remain available in a time like this. On the other hand, we attract queues of people and despite doing our best to encourage social distancing and putting in place all sorts of new measures in how we serve you, we have been feeling uncomfortable about the number of people stretching down the high street over the last weeks.

This is the plan we have come up with after much discussion of all the competing priorities.

We are encouraging you to place orders in advance so they can be delivered to your house or collected quickly from our door.

This is our new online shop.

We will be open Thursday 12-3pm, Friday 12-3pm and Saturday, 8.15-11am for collections and purchases. We’re doing bread, buns, brownies and blondies. No lunches at the moment.

Deliveries will also take place on Thursdays from 12-6pm , Fridays 12-6pm and Saturday morning, so please check the correct delivery day on your order.

We are delivering on foot/by bike so the area we can reach is limited. Please check this map to see if you are in our delivery area.

We are aiming to move towards collection and delivery only but for this week we will have a very limited amount of bread on sale in the shop.

If you have a regular order with us, please place it each week. We really value all our wonderful regular customers but we need your help to get this new system going to please don’t be offended that we are asking you to start afresh.

We won’t be selling flour for the moment – we need to ensure we have a solid supply – but when we can we will make it available. This is the perfect time for you to bake bread after all!

We have had many kind offers of help but feel that we can’t accept volunteers at this time, but if we can arrange to drop a couple of orders with you to distribute to your neighbours, we’ll try and make that work. If you live further afield, please arrange a collection instead.

We will be continually assessing what we do and making changes as necessary. We ask you to bear with us if we make mistakes, no doubt we will, this is all a bit rushed.

We have yet to find a way to offer bread to the most vulnerable in our community, so if you know a way we can safely do this, please point us in the right direction. Similarly, if you are a health worker and can see a way we might be able to help you out, please be in touch.

Coronavirus and Loaf

Updated: 17th July 2020

We want our customers to know we are taking the coronavirus outbreak seriously and to let you know the procedures we have put in place for the foreseeable future.

Visiting the Shop

If you are feeling unwell, or believe you could be at risk of carrying coronavirus, please do not visit us at this time.

We rearranged the shop, moving the counter to the door and serving one customer in at a time. The counter and other areas of customer contact are disinfected regularly.

We will be encouraging you all to keep your distance from each other in the queue,and whilst being served, the advice is a two metre gap.

We ask that customers pay by contactless card where possible. We will of course still accept cash if that’s all you have. We will change gloves / wash hands after handling any cash.

We already maintain a high standard of hygiene in our bakery and shop and are confident our procedures match those recommended for coronavirus. We will continually review these.

We are keeping the webshop open for people to preorder for swift collection, but we are actively baking more in order to have products available to purchase in our actual shop.

Staffing Loaf

In the event of a member of staff needing to self-isolate they will be paid their normal wage. There is no need for them to come in. We have a plan in place for how to manage if someone were to come down with symptoms while at work.

We are open 4 days a week, as we are taking advantage of the Furlough system and have fewer members of staff working together currently.

Cookery School Classes

Following government instruction all classes are cancelled for the forseeable future. We have been in touch with anyone who has bookings and voucher dates will be extended. We are still unsure of when or how we will safely reopen the Cookery School.

What else are we doing?

We will work with other local co-operatives so we can support each other in challenging circumstances and still keep you supplied with bread.

We have a donation option on the website where we are baking for local Schools, and foodbanks. We also donate any leftover loaves from our shop.

If you have any questions please get in touch.

Christmas is Coming!!!!!!

Doesn’t it feel like Christmas? Yes it feels like Christmas! We started preparing in October when we made our annual batch of mincemeat. It’s a delicious mix using local apples, beer from Attic Brewery and Cufuffle marmalade. We can’t wait for you to try it!

Here are our opening hours and order deadlines for 2019’s festive season.

We’ll be doing our usual range of breads (plus on the fly specials at the bakers’ whims), mince pies from 29th Nov, mince meat macarons from the week commencing 14th December and stollen on 21st, 23rd and 24th December. From 10th December we will have festive themed pizza available every lunchtime.

We are taking orders up until Thursday 19th December but we will be baking above and beyond what’s ordered so if you miss the deadline, or can’t decide what you want in advance, don’t worry, there will be plenty available on the shop shelves.

To place an order, email info@loafonline.co.uk; we will confirm all orders by email. Alternatively you can place an order in the shop during our opening hours.

Our Christmas week opening hours are:

As normal until 14th December
Tuesday 17th December – CLOSED
Wednesday 18th December – 12-6.30pm
Thursday 19th December – 12-6.30pm
Friday 20th December – 12-6.30pm
Saturday 21st December – 8.15am-1pm
Sunday 22nd December – CLOSED
Monday 23rd December – 12-6.30pm
Tuesday 24th December – 8am-12pm
Wednesday 25th December – CLOSED  until…
Tuesday 7th January – 12-6.30pm and business as usual onwards!

Peels are back in stock again!

A peel is a wooden board with a handle used to quickly and safely take bread out of the oven. It’s effectively a large spatula, as demonstrated by Neil in this video:

Our new supplier of peels is Dale Hipkiss, a local artist and woodworker, who hand-makes them in his studio in Stirchley. You may know Dale from Artefact, where he works, and as part of the duo Hipkiss and Graney

The peels have been tested and approved by our bakers and are now on sale for £18 each. If you’re struggling to get your sourdough off the stone, come in and buy one!

CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS


CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS

TUESDAY 18th -Closed

WEDNESDAY 19th – 12-6.30 pm

THURSDAY 20th – 12-6.30pm

FRIDAY 21st – 12-6.30pm

SATURDAY 22nd– 8.15-1pm

MONDAY 24th – 8am-12pm

WE REOPEN 8th JANUARY

 MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

LOVE

TEAM LOAF

Upcoming closure!

Next Tuesday, 27th November, Loaf will be closed all day. This is so our team can attend a Real Bread Campaign event in London. We’ll be back open again as normal on Wednesday the 28th at 12 noon. Sorry for any inconvenience and thanks for your understanding!

The Baker’s adventures in Wales.

Many of you ask how Tom and Jane, who founded Loaf from their home in Stirchley back in 2009, are getting on these days. Tom will be back at Loaf on Saturday 17th November to teach Simply Sourdough (there are places available, book here) and as you’ll see if you read on we’re not sure how regularly we’ll be hosting Tom’s courses in future as he and Jane’s new ventures in Wales are very exciting!

Jane on the Machynlleth Market stall.

After having their son Reuben in 2016 and Tom taking an extended period of parental leave, they headed off in a campervan, visiting bakeries and permaculture projects across Europe and searching for the right place to start the next chapter in their lives.

Machynlleth in mid-west-Wales is that place! They moved in April this year and started a new ‘micro-homestead and family bakery’ called Rye & Roses or Rhyg a Rhosod in Welsh. They sell their bread at Machynlleth’s amazing weekly market – the biggest street market in Wales. Tom bakes purely sourdough from Loaf’s original sourdough starters, with a focus on whole-grain loaves from non-commodity grain milled by water power at Felin Ganol just down the coast.

Award winners already!

They’ve benefited hugely from taking over their spot on Machynlleth market from Mair’s Bakehouse who had been selling wood-fired sourdough bread there for the past 9 years, and had decided to retire this year and kindly endorse Tom and Jane’s new enterprise. They’ve also hooked up with another bakery, Andy’s Bread in Llanidloes, and formed the ‘Mountain Road Bread Collective’ and sell their bread together at the market and other events.

Tom makes everything by hand (no mixer!) just like the early days of Loaf, and currently bakes in a semi-commercial ‘Rofco’ oven in the conservatory. They’re hoping to be fully off-grid with the bakery in 2019 and put a wood-fired oven in a purpose-built bakehouse in the garden.

Perhaps most exciting of all is their forays into farming. They have just planted up a fifth of an acre on a local farm with an organic population of winter wheat, and they’ve agreed with another local organic farm to rent an acre for grain growing over the next few seasons. And Jane has enrolled on an innovative horticultural training course called ‘Pathways to Farming’. Exciting times ahead! Follow their progress on Instagram and twitter (@ryeandroses), Facebook
(https://www.facebook.com/ryeandrosesmachynlleth/), and at www.ryeandroses.co.uk

Farmer Bakers!

We’re looking for new local suppliers

We’ve always done well with a number of local producers and suppliers, from Cuffufle‘s jams and chutneys to Pip’s hot sauces, and we’re now actively looking for more for the bakery shop 

We have three broad criteria:

  • Local businesses. Stirchley is the gold standard, of course! But West Midlands based in great. 
  • Bread-related. We sell bread and bread-making equipment, so we’re looking for products that complement. Spreads and sauces are obvious winners and coffee always sells well. What else might people who are buying lovely bread also need?
  • Stuff we can use. One of the founding principles of Loaf is you can do what we do with the tools and ingredients we use. Everything we sell in the shop is or could be used in the bakery, cookery school or for preparing lunches. Usually we source this from Suma wholesale, but it’s be lovely to get it locally. 

Beyond that, products should obviously be packaged professionally for retail and according to food hygiene standards. They should ideally have a long shelf life, though we are open to selling perishable items if it’s worth it. 

Terms are figured out to mutual benefit, so if you’re producing something that fits some, if not all, of our criteria, please get in touch with Pete at info@loafonline.co.uk

We’re also going to be actively looking at places like Stirchley Community Market and always welcome tips from our customers. What would you like us to sell? 

Coming up at Loaf – a Pop Up with Lap-Fai Lee and our closed week

Here’s what you can look forward to over the next couple of weeks at Loaf. First up, next week Lap-fai Lee is back in the kitchen, bringing you our #TEAMRICE pop up on Thursday 23rd August. Doors open at 6.30pm and it’s first come, first served. It’s eat in or take away and we’ll do our best to throw a good queue party for you all. Here is the menu – Kerry’s final design before she finished at the end of July, featuring Molly’s illustrations.

The following week, Loaf will be closed for annual maintenance from 28th – 31st August. Don’t worry, we’ll make plenty of bread on the Saturdays  so you can stock up! We will be in the building doing work but don’t be fooled, we won’t be baking. Instead we’ll be tidying, sorting, organising, painting and all the other things on our list of odd jobs.

In the cookery school, August courses are full but there are spaces on several dates in September, including:

Dosa on Tuesday 4th or Thaali on Tuesday 25th both with Haseen from Kings Heath’s Pop Up Dosa.

You can join our Martha for Bread: Back to Basics on Thursday 13th.

Loaf founder Tom Baker is back in town delivering a Sourdough course on Saturday 15th.

Phil will be teaching our ever popular Handmade Pasta course on Tuesday 18th and he’s about to spend a week holidaying in Italy so we’re expecting fresh inspiration when he returns.

Enjoy the rest of the warm weather everyone, see you at #TEAMRICE!