The Bakery Project

 

How it all began: While the schoolroom was being given a fresh coat of paint in September 2011, we held school outside for a week: the subjects were baking and Portuguese. We baked every day, ground our own flour, copied out recipes and learned the ingredients in Portuguese. On the last day, we visited the local baker who supplies Tamera with bread.

The children were amazed: there they needed 200 kg of flour to make the dough! And there were 400 loaves in one oven! Excitedly, they asked question after question, and exactly memorized every single step in the process – and on the way back it was clear: We want our own bakery! A boy who was seven years old at the time immediately had a clear plan: “We need five children to be bakers, just like in the real bakery. We’ll bake bread regularly and sell it in Tamera. We’ll use the money to buy a real dough mixer, then some scales and a bigger oven – and in the end, a real bakery.”

The “baking group” came together within a short amount of time, and they baked at every possible opportunity. They tried out different recipes, learnt which conditions the dough needs to rise best, how to organize their work, and the best way to work in a team so that it stays fun all the way through. Whether it was for breakfast on Sunday, for the open house day at the Place of the Children, or in the community café – they used every possible kind of occasion to bake, and to sell rolls and sandwiches.

The project reached its peak this year, with the ‘Marana Bar’, during the 2012 summer school: a team of adults took up the children’s passion for baking with the idea of operating a travelling bar during the summer school. The children were immediately full of ideas about what they could make themselves: rolls, cake, juice, ice cream... They went to the junkyard and got everything they needed to make the bar-truck and vendor’s tray, designed posters and tried out different recipes. They learnt how to calculate quantities, where food comes from, and how a refrigerator works. Over ten days, they made things every morning, sold them every afternoon, spoke to customers and counted money.

 “We’ve never made so much money before,” said one baker, proudly, “we definitely have to do this again.” Will the Place of the Children ever actually run a bakery? There’s no definite plan for that to happen. The reason to keep the project going has been the boost it has given to the children’s confidence.. But if it does happen, one thing is known for sure - where it will be: “As soon as the Place of the Children has a new kitchen, the old kitchen will become the bakery.”