Flour to the People: a look back at the project

Image from Summerhill Community Centre

Report by Project Coordinator Lyndsay Cochrane

The ‘Flour to the People’ project aimed to work alongside community food hubs and bakers to make Scotland The Bread’s nutritious flour, and bread made with it, more accessible to communities across the country. We approached this overall goal from a variety of angles:

1 – Scale up flour production and distribution

Following the huge spike in demand during the first lockdown in early 2020, a second Zentrofan cyclone mill was installed to raise our flour production capacity. Having a second mill also enhanced our efficiency and has enabled us to offer rye flour as a new product to the public market.

Through other project activities we have been able to connect with new communities, bakers and retail outlets interested in using or stocking Scotland The Bread flour, widening our distribution beyond the usual channels and into areas where our flour may not normally be easily accessible.

  • The normal working capacity of the mill increased from 875kg to 1250kg per week
  • Sales of our sustainably grown, nutrient dense flour have increased beyond pre-pandemic levels

2 – Share baking knowledge and skills through Community Food Hubs

As well as increasing access to our flour, we wished to increase people’s confidence, knowledge and skills in using it to bake delicious, nourishing bread. To do so we partnered with Rosie Gray, baker and founder of Reviving Food, aiming to travel to communities across the country and deliver a socially distanced breadmaking demonstration from her mobile bakery.

Unfortunately, evolving Covid-19 restrictions threw up a number of obstacles to this plan. An alternative, fully remote online structure was swiftly put into action and proved more appropriate and successful since it avoided travel of Rosie’s mobile bakery (and therefore carbon emissions), opened up the event immediately to a greater number of community members and provided participants with the opportunity to try the flour and bread in their own time then ask questions based on their experience.

Taking part in the online Q&A session with Belville Community Garden in Inverclyde

Reactions from participants and community food hubs has been overwhelmingly positive. Post-event feedback gathered through an online survey showed that the vast majority of respondents  felt the event had inspired them to try baking at home and even more were interested in using Scotland The Bread flour to do so. Many enjoyed learning about various aspects of baking and flour production, while others were pleased to have learnt a new skill and to have the chance to use a flour they may not ordinarily have purchased.

All of the community organisers surveyed felt that the event was successful in providing community members with breadmaking skills and knowledge about local flour, and that there is interest in a continued supply of Scotland The Bread flour to their community. Several have already made exciting plans for further breadmaking workshops, as easing restrictions allow people to gather in each others’ company to enjoy baking and breaking bread together.

  • Over 270 people were reached
  • 96% of participants surveyed would be interested in using STB flour for their home baking
  • Strong interest from Community Food Hubs for continued collaboration with Scotland The Bread to promote local flour and breadmaking

3 – Support bakers to increase the impact of their localised supply chains

Four workshops were carried out with a small group of bakers who had participated in the recent ‘Baking in the Community’ project run by Nourish Scotland in partnership with Scotland The Bread, in which they were supported to run baking workshops for enthusiastic home bakers in their local areas.

Building on these previous activities, the online series of ‘Flour to the People’ discussions sought to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and successful techniques for strengthening an emerging baking community and capitalising on local connections to bring delicious bread made with nutritious local flour to a greater number of people.

  • A guidance video was produced as reference for working with Scotland The Bread flour
  • Bakers enjoyed the opportunity for idea/skill-sharing and were interested to newly/further incorporate our flour in their baking

4 – Develop resources to support baking within more communities

The discussions held with bakers and community groups throughout this project were rich in knowledge and ideas. By capturing and organising these into a series of resources, we hope to continue the impact of the ‘Flour to the People’ project by providing guidance, tips and examples for other community groups or bakers looking to engage local people in a better flour and bread system.

  • Resources are being made available on our website for those communities looking to encourage people to bake with local wholemeal flours
Summerhill Community Centre

5 – Research the most effective and feasible low-carbon, zero-waste flour distribution system

In keeping with the theme of increasing accessibility, we were interested to examine whether a new model of wholesale flour packaging and distribution might reduce cost to consumer while reducing our environmental impact (without creating unfairness at any earlier point of the chain).

We carried out this research in partnership with Six Degrees Edinburgh. The assigned team produced not only a detailed report covering Life Cycle Analyses of our current distribution system and several alternatives but also an interactive Analysis Workbook. This workbook offers the welcome opportunity to easily see the effect of each proposed option and will be useful during discussions on the feasibility of changing our current system.

  • Alternatives identified within the flour production and distribution process to reduce cost and environmental impact
Quotes from Community Food Hubs

We would like to thank all of our partners on this project:

  • Innovate UK
  • Organisers and event participants from: Belville Community Garden, EATS Rosyth, Forth Environment Link, Forward Coupar Angus, Greener Kirkcaldy, MOO Food, Moogety Grub Hub, STAR Project, Summerhill Community Centre and Transition Town Forres.
  • Rosie Gray (Reviving Food)
  • Chelsea Marshall (Nourish Scotland)
  • Community bakers : Buckhaven Community Bakers, Doughlicious Bread Club, Granton Garden Bakery, High Rise Bakers, Honesty Bakehouse, Riverside Bakery CIC and Strathpeffer Artisan Bread
  • Lucy Watkins (designer)
  • Six Degrees Edinburgh

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