True to old world principles
Fresh – Local – Handcrafted – Organic
It is fitting that when the Cake Box Bakery owners decided to sell, a new bakery stepped in to take over.
In any community the world over, the bakery is the heart of the town and if you are in Summerland and are an early riser passing by, you will want to stop for a moment to enjoy the smells of fresh baked goods coming from True Grain Bread. It is an experience that is warm and comforting and appeals to all of us through time eternal.
“We are excited to be joining a community that is passionate about protecting and nurturing its rich agricultural roots. When we learned that the Cake Box location was available, we realized this was the next chapter for True Grain Bread.” says Todd Laidlow, co-owner of True Grain Bread, which opened in Summerland last summer.
“We looked at 30 communities and for each of them, had charted the pros and cons. We were searching for a number of important attributes and Summerland kept coming up tops. It was a bonus that the town has abundant natural beauty and a rich heritage.”
True Grain Bread – Chapter one
Jonathan Knight originally founded the first True Grain Bread in 2004 in Cowichan Bay, a town of 2500 with a vibrant arts community on Vancouver Island.
Jonathan, an accomplished baker & miller was also an avid promoter of a back-to-basics natural way of producing food. His guiding principles revolved around tradition, craftsmanship, community, fresh, supporting local suppliers and local businesses, and organic.
His approach to baking was essentially a reintroduction of centuries old practices that included milling grain to produce True Grain’s bread and baked goods.
From Cowichan Bay to an organic farm in Hazelton
By 2008, True Grain had became so successful that Jonathan began to feel disconnected from the part of the business he was so passionate about so he decided to sell the company, and Bruce Stewart from Calgary who was also looking for a change from big city life stepped in to buy it.
After spending a few months teaching Bruce the business of baking, Jonathan headed off to Hazelton in Northern BC, by bicycle (via Newfoundland!) to start a natural, organic farm in the Kispiox Valley.
Bruce acclimatized to the West Coast and the natural way of producing food and in 2009, in part was responsible for the town becoming the first in North America to receive Cittaslow designation; a high honour in the foodie community.
Best friends and best business partners
Todd Laidlaw, also from Calgary and best friends with Bruce from university, looked at going into the Cowichan Bay business with Bruce back in 2008. “Originally when we looked at True Grain Bread, we both felt we had stumbled across something special.” says Todd. But for Todd the timing wasn’t right.
Four years later that changed and Todd and Bruce became partners, with Todd moving to Summerland to set up and run the second True Grain Bread, a sister company to the original.
Bigger is not necessarily better
Bruce and Todd had both been working for multinational food companies and wanted to get away from big business and big cities and move to a small town.
Todd explains his reasons for wanting to establish True Grain Bread in Summerland; “I wanted to really embrace the lifestyle of a small town and the values of the True Grain business. I wanted to create a meaningful experience at the same time as providing people with something of value.”
The epitome of shopping locally
True Grain supports organic farming methods and sources organic products where they are able to do so. But according to Todd, often times organic and local are in conflict. “We could source an organic ingredient from Saskatchewan or the US or we can source a non-organic one from Summerland. If the local farming methods are something we support, for example, carrots grown with no sprays even though not classified as organic, then it just makes sense to choose local.”
“We now support two Summerland egg producers. One of them from Meadow Valley has 60 hens and that’s not enough to fill our needs so we have a second one as well. If you consider the carbon footprint of buying eggs from Cawston vs non-organic eggs from Summerland, again it just makes sense to choose local.”
It’s not a rule; it’s a value
When hiring trades people Todd also likes to hire locally. He adds that it’s not a rule; it’s a value. It’s also a value that at the end each day, the unsold baked goods that don’t have a shelf life are donated to three different organizations; the Summerland Food Bank, the Salvation Army and the Giants’ Head School program.
As True Grain states on the home page of their website; “True Grain Bread is a beacon for sustainable business practices, partnership with local farmers and producers and building and fostering community.” They do this beautifully. And their ultimate goal is to deliver an unparalleled bread experience which they seem well on their way to achieving.
Enquire at the bakery for tours to watch the bakers at work and to see the Austrian mill grinding grain into flour.
article/photography by Stephanie Seaton