Homebaked success

04 May 2017

“At the heart of our endeavor is the principle of creating value, social and monetary, which stays in our neighbourhood and is invested into its communities.” Here is an inspiring piece about a community determined to make change, on their terms.

What they’ve achieved so far is amazing, and we are excited to join them on the next part of their journey as a growing community organisation. Homebaked is using funding from the Trust to help them become an independent, self-sustaining co-operative to fully, in their words, "take matters into their own hands.”

In this blog, Carolyn Starr from Homebaked Community Land Trust in Anfield, Liverpool, talks baking with a difference.

Pictured: High Tea, a special event held by the CLT on the HomeFarm recreation ground.

Homebaked is a Co-operative Bakery and Community Land Trust located on the high street, just a few steps from Liverpool Football Club, in the premises of the former ‘Mitchell’s Bakery’.

We are a growing group of local residents, football fans and general supporters who come together with the desire to take an active part in the development of our neighbourhood.

Our story began seven years ago when we decided to set up the Homebaked Bakery Co-operative, which re-opened our local bakery in community ownership - although our shared history, as a community bound by baking, began far further back, at the start of the 18th century.

The former ‘Mitchells’ Bakery’ is a local landmark. Purpose built as a bakery in 1901, it has only ever been in the ownership of two families: the Kellys and the Mitchells. Many people in the area, and football fans from all over the world, still fondly remember buying a pie on their way to the match or picking up a bag of cakes on their way to school. When we moved into the building we found a sign that reads ‘Cakes for auspicious occasions’ and we like to ponder just how many of those auspicious occasions in people’s lives the Mitchell’s cakes accompanied.

In the age of big supermarkets, running a profitable family business is difficult at the best of times. In the Mitchells’ case they faced the additional challenge of finding themselves in the middle of an area earmarked for demolition and were quite literally running out of customers as the community was broken up and residents moved away. In 2010, after being told their building was to be demolished and the family retired. Unfortunately soon after, the renewal scheme stalled.

At that time, the people involved with the 2Up 2Down project were looking for a base where they could run design workshops with young people. They saw the closing sign and asked the Mitchells if they could rent the space.

Over the coming months many residents stopped by while workshops were happening and many of them asked, ‘So, when are you starting to bake again?’

The young people’s conclusion was quick and clear; this had to be a bakery again!

Pictured: Grace, a volunteer at Homebaked, who also runs the group's Cake Club.

Together with older residents, architects and design specialists, they researched different bakery spaces, compared designs they liked, thought about how to make the place energy efficient and took part in baking workshops at the Community College.

After a laborious process of writing business plans and preparing cash flows, with the support of specialist business advisers from the co-operative movement, the Homebaked Bakery Co-operative was established by a group of local residents, with the support of experts in baking and finance.

That summer the building went through the first stage of its refurbishment. One of the key features of the new design was a big doorway into the bakery kitchen, so ‘you can see what’s going on, what’s baking!’ Everyone agreed that we would want to keep the beautiful old tiles in the shop front and so we spent many painstaking hours freeing them of paint.

We featured in Liverpool Biennial 2012, the international festival of contemporary art, and hundreds of people came to visit at the end of ‘The Anfield Home Tour’. Shortly after that we launched our crowdfunding campaign ‘An oven at the heart of Anfield’ to cover start-up costs. The campaign surpassed all our expectations with 500 backers and nearly £19,000 being raised. On the back of this success we received a generous donation from Metabolic Studio in L.A. and managed to secure a government grant from Stepclever in North Liverpool.

Throughout this time our group grew extensively. We started baking, at first with just with a little oven in the back; sharing skills, inviting people for community baking classes, celebratory events and trial baking with professional bakers. During the crowdfunding time we had started opening on match days, offering fresh soups and cakes. After our first match there was no going back. Fans were asking over Twitter and Facebook about the ‘next home game’s special’. So we kept on trading on match days, using the income to fund our test baking and market research. Finally the building where we had been shivering through long meetings started to warm up and smell of bread once more.

After a second phase of refurbishment in summer 2013 we started buying professional bakery equipment and finally our oven arrived at the beginning of October. We did the shop fit ourselves, with many hours of volunteer labour, using mostly materials from the building.

We also decided to invest in employing a business development manager to help with the launch of the business and the crucial first period of trading. We hired our amazing small team of staff: two local professional part-time bakers, a shop front manager/cook, a part-time shop front person and our first apprentice, supported by many more volunteers.

The business opened at the end of October 2013. For the people involved in Homebaked it is important that the bakery becomes solid and self-sustaining. We’d like to make a profit, so we can re-invest it into training and community events.

Currently we are planning an outreach growing and baking scheme with local schools. Also in the pipeline is a young people’s business scheme.

Homebaked is made and shaped by the people who take part: our staff, our members and our customers. Our members vote on how we run the business, what our next steps will be, where we should invest any profit and how to use the space out of business hours.

We have recently secured investment from People’s Health Trust, using money raised by HealthFit through The Health Lottery. The funding is going to make a massive difference. It’s going to help us to establish HomeFarm, a project to regenerate part of an old recreation ground into a micro-green urban farm. It’s another step towards Homebaked Community Land Trust being an independent, self-sustaining co-operative and means we can fully take matters into our own hands.

Homebaked Community Land Trust is a membership organisation that allows local people to collectively buy, develop and manage land and buildings.

Building on our success with the bakery building, we’ve proposed a larger scheme of community-led development and regeneration of parts of the high street, providing workspace for social enterprise, affordable housing and spaces for us to meet, to chat and to celebrate.

And with the help of a grant from Power to Change, we are refurbishing accommodation above the bakery to rent out to young people at affordable prices. Once the process is complete, Liverpool City Council will be able to hand over ownership of the flat’s freehold to the CLT.

Once this has been achieved, the CLT will build on the site of a former terrace of ten houses alongside the Bakery; land which will be gifted by the City Council. The new building will comprise local shops on the ground floor, open to all, with residential properties above. All planning and labour work would be outsourced locally. Again, rent prices would be affordable and geared towards the local community, where the rate of unemployment is close to 25 per cent.

At the heart of our endeavor is the principle of creating value, social and monetary, which stays in our neighbourhood and is invested into our community.

Homebaked Community Land Trust is funded by People’s Health Trust through its Active Communities programme, using money raised by HealthFit through The Health Lottery.

To read more great ideas funded by the Trust, click here.

To connect with Homebaked CLT, you can do so on Facebook or Twitter.

You have already completed an application for funding, are you sure you would like to submit another application? You should only submit another application if it is for a different project. If you want to amend an application that has already been submitted, please call us on 020 7749 9100.

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