Kirk Smock - ORIGIN Breads

In March 2020, AGC launched a program to improve food access, and support area farmers, millers, bakers, and eaters.

Bakers source grain from local sustainable farms and bake Neighbor Loaves which contain at least 50% locally grown stonemilled flour.

You purchase Neighbor Loaves from participating bakeries.

Neighbor Loaves are distributed to community feeding organizations to support your neighbors in need.

Jae Arnold - Bard Bread & Pastry

Neighbor Loaves began as a flurry of calls, texts, and emails between AGC staff and members, popcorning various ideas that might support the regional grain chain as the pandemic took hold. The last weekend of March 2020, the first batches of Neighbor Loaves were offered by Madison Sourdough and ORIGIN Breads in Madison, Wisconsin.

Throughout 2020, bakers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota joined the initiative, connecting with local farms and mills to purchase grain and working with regional food pantries to feed communities in need.

AGC friends Northeast Grainshed Alliance, Common Grain Alliance, Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative, Deer Creek Malthouse, and CRAFT at Chatham University expanded the program, creating pockets of Neighbor Lovaves in their regions. The Community Loaves initiative based in the Pacific Northwest spun off, connecting regional flour and home bakers with food pantries.

Bird Dog Baking

Over 50 bakeries and food makers have participated throughout the country since the program’s inception. Neighbor Loaves, whether bread, tortillas, cinnamon rolls, or cornbread, create links from cities and towns back to fields and mills. The strong performance of this idea is proof that regional food systems can feed everyone in the community. AGC hopes that this proof inspires other bridges between regional grain value chains and hunger relief organizations, and stronger public and private investments to make this work possible

In March 2021, AGC published a one year retrospective of the Neighbor Loaves program and hosted a panel discussion with the Bread Bakers Guild of America, featuring Neighbor Loaves and other forms of bread generosity that grew out of the pandemic. You can read the year-in-review here and watch the talk here.

Tortilleria Zepeda

In May 2020, Tortillas Comunitarias, an adaptation of Neighbor Loaves, was created to connect locally made tortillas with communities for whom this food is culturally relevant. Tortillas Comunitarias are currently made by Lone Rock, WI-based AGC member Tortilleria Zepeda using locally grown heirloom and open-pollinated corn varieties and sold in partnership with Pasture & Plenty, a Madison restaurant and food retailer.

Testimonials

“Projects like Neighbor Loaves and partners like Baker’s Field Flour & Bread allow me to farm the way I do,” said Luke Peterson, farmer, A-Frame Farm, Madison, MN. “Without our local partners, I may not be able to grow some of the small grains my rotations need.”

“We are still making Neighbor Loaves and I don’t see an end to that, both from my desire to see this continue as a part of the bakery’s work, and our ability to get donations,” said Eric Schedler, miller & baker, Muddy Fork Farm & Bakery, Bloomington, IN.

“The fact that we’re getting grain from a few hours away and into a community that doesn’t normally have access to fresh flour, that feels really good,” said Wes Gardner, miller, baker & manager, Baker’s Field Flour and Bread, Minneapolis, MN.

“The concept of Neighbor Loaves - to support local agriculture, small businesses, and vibrant, connected communities - fits beautifully into our initiative to provide community food resources in the face of this devastating pandemic,”said Haley Traun, Farm to School & Community Director, REAP Food Group, Madison, WI.