8 IFST members from the Midlands gathered at the Small Food Bakery, based in a re-purposed canteen for a primary school in the outskirts of Nottingham We were hosted by Kim Bell, the owner and instigator of the bakery – she came from the construction industry, with no background in baking or indeed food, but inspired by a desire to do things better she started the bakery. Kim has done a lot of work to establish the supply chain sustainability credentials for her ingredients – in particular the wheat and other grains she uses in her bakery products. She was further inspired by like-minded collaborations such as the US Bread Lab run by Dr. Steven Jones, to curate the first UK Grain Lab Gathering in Nottingham in 2017. Now an annual event, Kim is a driving force in UK Grain Lab, seeing many more people come together to share, learn and collaborate within the baking and grain communities. Many farmers had not tasted bread baked using their wheat flour, so Kim went out into the farming sector and worked with the farmers to develop their baking skills as part of assessing new grain variety mixes functionality in bakery. Utilising unique diversified grain crops with greater resilience to climate and disease factors which are grown and milled as locally as possible is at the heart of the ‘Shorten the Food Chain’ socio-economic study and experiment led by Kim which looks at the impact a food manufacturing business has on its supply chain.
As a result of this ethos at the core of Small Food Bakery, all her ingredients are traceable back to farm, and indeed she knows many of the farmers in person, whether it be wheat for the flour or the fresh Sicilian lemons used in some of her patisserie items. This ethos also drives the operations at Small Food Bakery where the bakers follow their products through the entire process with each baker making the dough on day 1, coming back on day 2 to bake it and then selling it on day 3 directly to the consumer. So everyone has full responsibility for their bread. The bakery also opens as a café three days a week.
We had the opportunity to taste a number of different sourdough breads, some using locally UK sourced seeds such as flax and hemp instead of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, with two different local butters. Kim also sells some of the ingredients she uses direct to her customers, thus driving some additional volume for those suppliers and also helping her costs and stock rotation. A very enjoyable and informative morning