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