The up-and-coming Five Points Bakery is just about the most exciting news I’ve had a chance to share. Remember those great new windows that recently went into the former derelict Queen Sheba storefront adjoining Urban Roots Garden Cooperative (see story)? In a little over a week’s time those windows will showcase what will truly be a real old fashioned bakery. It’s back to the basics for owners Melissa and Kevin Gardner. The two are planning on bringing back all of the traditions that once made culinary essentials the focal point of a meal. Do you ever look at the ingredients of a cheap loaf of bread these days? It’s amazing what goes into some of our everyday purchases. Even the healthier breads are limited by standardized baking processes that the industry takes for granted. I mean, who has time to hand-mill their own grains?
That’s right. Melissa and Kevin are taking us back to where it all began. Back to the earth. Seven years ago the couple moved into the neighborhood. Two years later they discovered that one of their neighbors was selling his house. “I asked him how much,” Kevin told me. “I thought he said $60,000. I told him that $60,000 was steep for the block and he told me that I had not heard correctly. The price was $6000. I told him to wait right there and I ran home to get my checkbook. It turned out that the house had off street parking and a double lot that came with it.” “That’s where we grow our produce,” Melissa chimed in. “What we don’t grow ourselves we source locally. We have a CSA share where we get the fruit for our muffins and we rely on the urban community gardens to find enough to be as self-sufficient as possible.”
Five Points Bakery is certainly a sight for sore eyes. From the old world bread table to the paste tomato seedlings growing in the front window, this is what it’s all about. We’re seeing things happen in this city that I never thought could be possible. We’re witnessing our young artisans recapturing the imagination of the residents, by planting their roots deeper than I ever thought was possible. “If we can’t find it in the city,” Kevin went on to say. “We go straight to the farmers. You should see the look on the farmers’ faces when we arrive and tell them that we need grain for our breads that we’re feeding to our customers. For years these farmers have been selling their grains mainly as animal feed. We’re being invited into their farmhouses to sit down with them at their tables.” “It’s a romantic notion,” Melissa added. “It’s a dying art.” Or is it?
While I chatted with the business owners I couldn’t help but watch baker Kevin Cain manipulate some whole grain honey wheat dough. He looked so familiar. “His brother is Pat Cain,” I was told. Of course! I had written a story on Pat last summer (see post) – he had planted an incredible community garden on 10th Street where two former crack houses had once stood. Now Kevin and Patrick are planning on teaming up on a purchasing plan that would have one brother growing the produce so that the other can bake the bread – brilliant! “We’re recession proof,” Kevin Gardner reminded me. “This is the perfect business to start right now. We don’t need a lot – we have a cheap house, low bills, we’re growing food, and it’s a family business. I don’t need fancy clothes – it’s exciting to be part of something new…it just feels good.”
Five Points Bakery plans on being a lot of things to a lot of people. It will be a place to grab a cup of coffee. A place to participate in a baking workshop. A place to pick up pastries and gourmet pizzas, sandwiches and scones. And a place to catch up with neighbors and friends who have already become one of the 400+ members of adjoining Urban Roots. Investors in the bakery’s bread share program can also pick up orders at various locations throughout the city including the Lafayette Church. Not only is this neighborhood becoming self-sustaining, the city is becoming self-sufficient thanks to the creative energy being generated by these modern day urban pioneers.
As if to seal the deal, we were wrapping up the conversation when suddenly a neighbor walked into the bakery carrying a bouquet of golden wheat. Had I not been standing there I never would have believed it. Between that, the miniature seating area for children (complete with chalk board and beanbag) and the chandelier illuminating the baking table, I found myself counting my blessings that I had purchased a home within walking distance of this floury (and flowery) destination. I’m counting the minutes ’till opening day.
Five Points Bakery
426 Rhode Island St
*If you are gtowing fruits or nuts nearby, please give them a shout.