Following her graduation from Warren Wilson College, Meredith Corey-Disch took a trip through Europe.
For five months, she ate bread and worked as a volunteer at various farms. Then she spent a couple months as an apprentice with Tracebridge Sourdough, a bakery in southwest England renowned for its sourdough bread.
Corey-Disch found she loved making sourdough bread as much as she loved eating it.
“It’s the traditional method,” she said. “It’s better for you.”
So when the 2007 graduate of Fletcher High School returned to Jacksonville after her European adventure, she decided to become a bread maker. It appealed to her desire to be her own boss as well as to her quirky side.
“I asked myself what could be hippie enough that I liked it but not so hippie it would turn off potential customers,” she said.
She found a similar soul in Sarah Bogdanovitch, another Jacksonville resident trying to establish herself as a bread maker. So they became partners in Community Loaves, making bread and pastries for several Jacksonville restaurants and retailers, including Native Sun, Grassroots Natural Market, Black Sheep and Sweet Theory. They would also sell their bread at various open-air markets like the Riverside Arts Market.
They employ traditional techniques, starting with their culture bucket, where a mixture of flour and water ferment. That sourdough culture fills the role that cultivated yeast plays for contemporary bread makers. The culture bucket requires care and feeding, Corey-Disch said.
“It’s like a pet or a child,” she said.
But the fermentation “creates more complex flavors and is healthier than conventional yeasted breads,” she said.
Last summer, Corey-Disch and Bogdanovitch moved Community Loaves into a building at 1120 Edgewood Ave. S., about three blocks northwest of Roosevelt Boulevard.
Now they have decided to expand operations by opening the bakery to retail customers. They’ve got a counter where customers can sit and drink coffee or tea and eat whole grain pastries as well as bread. At some point they may also start selling pre-made sandwiches, Corey-Disch said.
The retail operation is open from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Next Saturday they plan to give free loaves to the first 50 customers who come through the door.
Charlie.Patton@jacksonville.com; (904) 359-4413