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posted posted April 15, 2004

Bread as a fundraiser

Buns from the oven
photo by Katherine Morley, May, 2005

In 2001, a retired teacher named Elizabeth Harris started the city's first park farmers' market at Riverdale Park, on Tuesday afternoons. Because a few of us had started baking bread in the Dufferin Park ovens, Elizabeth asked us if we'd come over and show the market customers what wood-oven bread tastes like. Riverdale Park by that time had built its own wood oven, but it was new enough that not many people knew about using it yet. So a few of us began to bake organic bread - three kinds - and take it to the farmers' market every Tuesday in the summer to sell it. Soon people began to line up at our table before we had even unloaded our bread. We often sold out in half an hour, even though we struggled to increase our output. That lasted to the end of the market season, in October. (One memorable baking day was Tuesday September 11, 2001. As the news of the World Trade Center attacks was coming in, the bread was waiting to be baked. We couldn't stop baking, not even to watch TV. We contemplated bailing out and just throwing the ready dough in the trash, but that didn't seem like a good thing to do either. So we just kept baking.)

The following summer some of our part-time summer park staff augmented their hours by baking for the Riverdale market again. Then in November, we started another farmers' market at our park, on Thursdays. The part-time staff kept on baking for this market, which meant that we could earn enough money to keep them working at the park between the summer season and the rink season.

So: at a time of tight budgets for parks, baking bread as a fundraiser is one piece of a solution to keeping staff in a park.

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