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Fife-based bread project hopes to give flour to the people

IT became one of the hobbies of lockdown with a combination of more time on our hands and empty supermarket shelves, it led people making their own bread.

Launched in July 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic saw unprecedented bread and flour shortages, Flour to the People, a community grain and bread project delivered by Scotland The Bread with Bread Matters, has gone from strength to strength recently won the Food Innovation category of the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2021.

The community benefit society, based in Fife, hopes this major award will give a welcome boost to their recently launched Crowdfunder, which is raising funds to continue their unique community work.

Read more: New Year Honours 2021: Full Scottish list revealed

Scotland The Bread, the trading name of Bread for Good Community Benefit Society, was a key delivery partner in the Bread Matters project ‘Flour to the People’, funded by InnovateU.

Its aim was to work alongside community food hubs and bakers to ensure that low income communities across Scotland had access to more nutritious flour and the skills and knowledge to transform it into delicious bread.

Since its launch, Flour to the People has run 10 community baking events and shared over 300 kg of nutritious, high quality flour with communities across Scotland.

Andrew Whitley, co-founder of Bread Matters and Bread for Good Community Benefit Society

Andrew Whitley, co-founder of Bread Matters and Bread for Good Community Benefit Society

Andrew Whitley, co-founder of Bread Matters and Bread for Good Community Benefit Society, said: “Breadmaking has been used as a means of social interaction, particularly valuable during a time of forced physical distancing, as well as engaging communities in the movement towards a healthy, sustainable, equitable and locally-controlled flour and bread supply.

“Scotland The Bread is a community benefit society working to grow better grain and bake better bread with the common purposes of nourishment, sustainability and food sovereignty. On a day-to-day basis, that means organically growing, and milling into wholemeal flour, evolutionary varieties of wheat and rye on the Balcaskie Estate which are more nutritious than most commercially-grown varieties today.”

He added that what is also important is the community benefit society also campaigns for a better, more biodiverse flour and bread supply for everyone. Among other things this means researching and improving the nutrient profile of grain, and supporting citizen growers to produce their own nutritious flour and bake it into delicious bread.

Scotland The Bread is now running a Crowdfunder to raise at least £20,000 to continue and expand their community engagement activities. They say everyone who supports the Crowdfunder will be helping empower a network of communities to grow and bake with more nutritious grains, creating flavoursome, slowly-fermented bread that everyone can enjoy. The society’s plans include community-building events that will teach and allow skills to be shared; developing lesson plans and toolkits for schools or groups empowering children to learn, grow and bake together; enhancing the citizen-science resources they can offer to allow data from community growers to inform research into better grains and much more.

Read more: New Year Honours List 2021: The full UK recipient list

Flour to the People Project Coordinator Lyndsay Cochrane said they were delighted that the impact and potential of the Flour to the People project was recognised with the prestigious BBC award.

She said: “A huge thank you to all of the community food hubs and bakers who partnered with us on the project and who worked tirelessly throughout the most challenging of times to bring better bread to their communities. This is a joint award held by each of them too.”

Flour to the People are raising funds to continue their unique community work

Flour to the People are raising funds to continue their unique community work

Since 2012, Scotland The Bread has been at the forefront of the Real Bread movement in the UK, taking an innovative and collaborative approach to developing a more nutritious grain, flour and bread supply chain. It brings together plant breeders, farmers, millers, bakers, nutritionists and citizens with the common purpose of producing nutritious grain, milling it close to home and using it to make wholesome, slowly-fermented bread that everyone can enjoy. Scotland The Bread is based at the Bowhouse food hub in St Monan’s in Fife where fellow artisan producers such as East Neuk Market Garden and Futtle Organic also bring the bounty of local regenerative agriculture to a thriving local market.

Mr Whitley shed some light on why some people now find bread now disagrees with them and opt for gluten free.

He said: “As a baker of 45 years standing I am amazed at the number of people who avoid and choose gluten free options. What is it about our daily bread that is so changed in the last 30 or 40 years that it’s disagreeing with many people to the point that they actually don’t want to eat it anymore and they can’t digest it properly. The answer is to be found in a whole lot of little changes that have come together in a perfect storm.

“We grow vast quantities of grain which has less in it in terms of the nutrients we can expect from wheat. We mill it to within an inch of its life to make white flour and we don’t ferment it any longer in the way that bakers used to bring out the best in the flour and make it more digestible.

“The gluten which people are consuming in modern industrial bread with all its additives is not being changed sufficiently during fermentation to make it digestible. All of things have damaging effects both on the personal and environmental health. So it’s vital that we can answer the question ‘where can I get nutritious, sustainable flour and bread like yours?’ by being able to point to a rapidly expanding network of community bakeries and food hubs, all building trust between farmers and eaters. In just five years Scotland The Bread has made great progress in its mission of becoming a ‘proof of concept’ to inspire others.”

Scotland The Bread’s Crowdfunder, supported by Community Shares Scotland, runs until January 31 and can be found at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/scotlandthebread

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