Photos by Coley Kennedy with Stay Gold Photos
The word “culture” has a different meaning in the Cole house – here, it refers to a jar in my fridge of a home-grown sourdough yeast culture.
While he has been laid off from work due to COVID-19, my husband, Aaron Cole, has been developing his skills as a bread baker, specifically in sourdough bread. Always in search of the perfect texture, crumb structure, and form, he is no stranger to bread baking – it is something he has done since learning alongside his grandma as a child.
These days, bread baking has turned into a bit larger of a project than just keeping our own bread drawer stocked. At the end of our driveway here in Spring Arbor, we’ve set up a table under a white tent and leave bread there for anyone to come and take what they need without worrying about social distancing in a store. Some take one or two, some take several loaves and are delivering to friends and family. To folks that need supplies, we also give out starter (the yeast culture) and flour (we purchase in bulk) to keep kitchens running.
We have been blown away by people’s generosity. Two months ago, we could only make about 10-16 loaves per day as our kitchen oven could handle one loaf at 40 min per loaf. A friend reached out to Aaron and gave us a full-size Subway (yes, the sandwich shop) oven which has now enabled us to do up to 40 loaves a day. 9 days out of 10, every loaf is taken by the end of the day. We have taken bread to the school for the lunch pick up line workers and dropped more off to friends and family all over town. It keeps our kids busy as well – Lily, 9, can mix a batch of dough on her own, and Tyler, 7, is our primary shuttle to get the bread to the table out front.
We are adamant that there is no set price on the bread, if you need some, take some if you want to donate, feel free! Every dime that is donated goes right back into supplies and materials. Our family’s passion is to feed people and let them know that excellent food can be for any budget.