Old bakehouse’s new life

The Old Emerald Bakehouse is the only Emerald shop that is completely off the grid.

Emerald Community House will soon offer a complete community food hub out of the National Trust listed Old Emerald Bakehouse, after years of restoration works on the building.

ECH House Co-ordinator Mary Farrow said the community house recently received state government funding to open an all-new food-hub in the old bakehouse.

“We are going to be selling and providing food in the community that is otherwise not accessible, bulk food and food for diverse diets, in addition to our free food program,” she said.

“It will help people who have to go off the hill to get things, or those who want to buy in bulk or support local community food providers as we are going to invite local providers to sell their things in the shop,” she said.

Ms Farrow said sales from the food hub will help fund the house’s free food movement, which it currently funds on at its own expense.

The community house also self-funded the restorations, which included paying three engineers, installing a brand new roof and new insulation.

The National Trust listed bakehouse is leased to ECH by the Commonwealth Bank and sits behind Emerald’s CBA building.

The bakehouse is home to a rare, century old wood-fired oven that dates back to 1914.

Ms Farrow said there were a couple of bakers in Emerald during that time and the oven was a part of a bakery at one end of town that burnt down. The oven components were relocated and built into the current bakehouse in the 1930’s.

“It was where the bread was made and laid on tables and shoved into the oven before it was loaded onto a horse and cart in the laneway and distributed to the people in the community,” she said.

According to Ms Farrow, the building was dormant for decades, used sparingly in the 70’s as a music room but “sat there derelict” until the community house got involved by doing tours of the bakehouse as part of their PAVE Festival.

“From there we arranged to get a lease with the bank of the building and grounds to run a community enterprise in the bakehouse,” she said.

The bakery is the only building in the Emerald village that runs “totally of the grid”.

“We got funding from the Federal Government to put on solar on one of our buildings, so we chose the bakehouse. It has solar and a battery and a powerpoint for a generator to back up the battery should we not have sun,” Ms Farrow said.

ECH also purchased a generator with state government funding, which Ms Farrow says “adds to sustainability”.

“It’s the wholy trinity – business, community and government all working together to achieve a beneficial sustainable outcome in the community, it doesn’t get better than that,” she said.

It is hoped the food hub will open in Spring or Summer.