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Dear Breadfriends (3/6/2014).

Dear Breadfriends and Crustfund Members,

I wanted to update you on recent goings on in the world of the bakery, and of wheat, flour, and bread.

As many of you already know, David has left the bakery. We're all sad to see him go. He came to us with not much in hand--a little time on the bench, maybe--but it turned out he had a depth of heart and love and artistry that elevated us all. We have been so lucky to have him. Now he's off, and he's got exciting plans: he'll be traveling the west coast, visiting and working in fine bakeries and with extraordinary bakers. He's got a big notebook, a camera, and lots of film (Yes. Old school.). We're looking forward to hearing about his adventures when he gets back.

Here at the bakery, Hope has taken over David's role as bread manager. She's just about on fire with the possibilities, and it turns out that she's got some kind of superhero energy that she can unleash at will. Quite something to be around, let me tell you!  And there are some new folks you may just be meeting: Alex has been refining our pasta production, and if you haven't tried the sourdough pasta, you should. It is something fine. You can thank Alex for that. Alex is also learning her way around pastries, and we have high expectations there--keep watch for dangerous and flaky things. I think many of you have met Jordan, who has been with us only a few months. He's from Texas, and he's been sharing his humor, dedication, and tremendous work ethic with us. It's a gift. All this new energy has opened up unexpected possibilities for us. It's an exciting time.

This year we'll be continuing with all the CSA distributions we had last year, and we'll have a couple of new ones, too. You'll be able to find our bread with PLOWBREAK FARM, and with the GOOD LIFE FARM.  This is good!  We've also been bringing lots of pasta and bread to THE PIGGERY on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you can find our bread at THE SHOP on those same days. We'll be working on other distribution sites in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

So that's the scene.. but there's more to the story. The story of GRAIN and FLOUR here in the Northeast.

Remember last year? Remember all that WATER that was COMING OUT OF THE SKY? Well, I know you don't want to think about that, but that's the kind of thing we think about a lot. All that rain and moist air meant that the wheat crop was in deep TROUBLE. The plants suffered from fungus, insect attack, and a host of other ills... not to mention that moist weather generally reduces the baking quality of wheat. The upshot is this: our prices for good quality organic flour and grain are going up, and the quality is going down. If you've noticed that the lift on some of your breads has been a little lower than last year at this time, now you know why. We use all our baker's wiles to coax the best out of the grain, and we learn new things everyday, but it's tough going at times. Meanwhile, we've got bakers calling from all over to see if we have grain stashed away, or if we know where they might find any. Interesting living.

All this trouble in the Northeastern wheat world has led to regular price increases. It's not killing us, but it certainly increases the burden. It's a drag.

Here's our thinking: We don't want to raise our prices. Even though we're on par or even below some supermarket bread prices, we'd like to keep our prices, and our loaf sizes, right where they are. We assume you'd prefer that, too.

To make that work, we would LOVE YOUR HELP.

If you know people who you think would enjoy our bread, send them our way. If you know folks who are hungry for hand-made pasta, send them to us. If you know someone who needs a cookie, have them give us a call. YES. This is a MEMBERSHIP DRIVE. Seriously. We are looking to take on somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-100 NEW MEMBERS.

I know it sometimes feels like we've gotten our word out to everyone in Ithaca, but it ain't so. You'd be surprised to find out how many of your colleagues and friends have no idea we even exist. It's depressing to think that there are people roaming around Ithaca pining for good bread. [True story: I was walking through one of our local supermarkets when I heard a man tell his partner, with no small measure of implied suffering, "I WISH I could get some GOOD rye bread around here!!" I sidled up to him and said, quietly so as not to attract attention to myself,... "Rye bread? Remember this:!"] And he, I'm sure, is one of many.

We would love your help in this, and we are grateful for it.

Thank you!!

With great affection,



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