Crozet Gazette January 2017

Page 20




Goodwin Creek Bakery Moves to Larger Kitchen By Theresa Curry Goodwin Creek Farm and Bakery, the Afton-based momand-pop business, is set to move into a new building this winter, signaling the owners’ commitment to what was at one time an on-the-fly adjustment to the realities of life in Nelson County. The bakery grew as a kind of fall-back position when the original plan fell through, say John and Nancy Hellerman, the owners. Plan A was to have a working farm, selling hay to farmers and eggs and vegetables at the Nelson County Farmer’s Market. “We did really well there,” he said. “People loved our produce, and we got to know them and it was fun.” But then there was the day about ten years ago when they went out to gather vegetables for market day and the deer had done more than their usual damage. “They’d eaten almost everything,” Nancy remembers. Unwilling to disappoint their

weekly clients, she baked muffins and bread. The baked goods were also well received. “Those days were fun, too,” John said. “Whatever was left of the produce, we’d put it on a focaccia and bake it. I kind of miss it.” They made the change to predominantly baked goods, found they needed an inspected kitchen, and increased production to make it worthwhile. In the early days, they took 16 or so loaves a week to market. Now, the couple pulls at least 250 loaves a day from the fragrant ovens, with the weekly output growing to more than 2500 loaves in the spring and fall. They currently have one fulltime and one part-time helper. They’re working in close quarters in what used to be a regular farmhouse kitchen, with the former living area devoted to cooling, packing and loading. In the kitchen, it’s a complicated dance to get from the sink to the counter, from the ovens to the cooling racks, especially when more than one person is involved.

John Hellerman with pretzels headed for Blue Mountain Brewery

“We just have the bedrooms to live in,” John said (The Hellermans have two young sons, Dave and Joe.) “Everything else is taken up by the bakery.” This will all change soon, as the bakery operation moves downhill into a separate building with a better-designed workflow and new equipment. One of the new pieces, a giant

mixer, has already arrived but was pressed into service quickly when the old one conked out prematurely. The new space and new ovens should be fully functional by early spring. John’s not sure they will be able to increase production, but it will allow them to adjust their work hours, now pretty crazy, with baking in

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