“I realised quite early on in my sourdough journey that the gift of a humble loaf of bread could make any ordinary day feel a little brighter. So, when a close friend of my sister’s was undergoing treatment for leukaemia, I dropped a freshly baked loaf of sourdough on her doorstep, with a little note, in the hope that it would lift her spirits, if only fleetingly.
“I then asked her to give me the name of someone who could also use a kind gesture. She ‘payed it forward’ to a friend who had not long been diagnosed with breast cancer. The loaves of bread continued to be ‘passed on’ with heartfelt notes of thanks and gratitude and so ‘The Good Bread Project’ was born.” We hear from talented baker, Jo.
“What began as a ‘pay it forward’ initiative quickly turned into a sourdough gifting project, as people started to ask how they could gift bread. It became apparent that people wanted a way to tell their friends and family ‘I miss you’, ‘you’re doing a great job’ or simply ‘I’m thinking of you’. So now, each week, The Good Bread Project drops freshly baked loaves of bread on the doorsteps of Geelong.
How did Jo get started? “About 4 years ago a lovely friend of mine gifted me some of her wild wheat starter and suggested I give sourdough baking a try. Always up for a challenge in the kitchen, I poured over her copy of ‘Tartine’ by sourdough guru Chad Robertson and attempted my first loaves. It’s no small undertaking. There’s a starter to maintain, temperatures to control, fermentation to assess…and to the beginner baker it can all seem a bit daunting.
“I got off to a rocky start but once I started to turn out some half decent loaves, I was addicted. Before long I was knee deep in bread literature and baking multiple loaves a week – eating too many and gifting them to family, friends and now paying them forward.
“And while the bread is delicious to eat, it’s really the beautiful messages and community engagement that make this project so special. It’s not every day that we tell our loved ones what they mean to us. The bread is just a bonus.”
Story: Jacqui Bennett. Photo of Jo, supplied