{hello} I’m Britin

Editor’s Note: As I announced with Erika T’s intro post, From Scratch Club is growing. We’ll be introducing a few more new guest contributors throughout the weeks to come. I’m honored to announce our newest member, Britin Foster, co-owner of All Good Bakers (with her husband Nick). I’m very excited to bring her aboard as I think her point of view as a mother, wife and owner of a start-up brick & mortar bakery and Community-Supported Bakery, that is trying to source everything as ethical, organic and local as possible, is a perfect fit for the growing reach of our blog. Welcome Britin! -Christina

Hi, I’m Britin Foster.  I became an FSC fan after Chris contacted my husband, Nick, and me last year when we were starting up our Community Supported Bakery (we’re All Good Bakers).  Organizing conversations and community involvement surrounding food issues is such an important part of healing our food system, and I have to say, FSC does it with the vigor that is brought on by true passion.  Kudos to everyone who is involved in this community – we need the commitment of a critical mass of people in order to make progress!

We became intensely focused on healthy foods soon after our daughter was born on Christmas Eve Eve, 2006.  After 36 hours of labor, there was no way we were putting food in our vulnerable little baby’s body that could make her sick in the long run.  The thought of poisoning her with unhealthy foods created a visceral reaction and a drive to more thoroughly investigate our food supply.  We were vegetarian at then and I was at my most healthy when pregnant (although I consumed a ½ gallon of ice cream just about every week, I craved and drank gallons of ice water).  We joined the Natural Family Parenting Group hosted by member-families at the Honest Weight Food Coop soon after Katie was born.  We met for 3 hours every Wednesday morning and discussed a range of topics about how to avoid toxins in our environment and food, baby wearing, cloth diapering (which we were never able to commit to), gentle discipline, natural earth celebrations, nursing, co-sleeping, community-building, food-allergies, new-parent mysteries…I could go on.  We made many lasting relationships, had emergency questions answered, learned an incredible amount of information, and perhaps most importantly, the lessons we learned have been put to use in our lives.  We started avoiding GMO, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and household toxins immediately, and have become advocates for a healthy food system, and a variety of environmental and community causes.

Nick and I have been baking for local farmers markets for the last 7 years, after both working steadily in food service for most of our adult lives.  Nick got the bug for baking after watching and hearing stories about his maternal grandmother (“Gommy” or Margie) baking all of the breads for their family of eight, twice a week out of necessity.  His paternal Grandmother (“Grandma Bernie”) has a coveted, secret family recipe for Sugar Cakes that I’m still trying to get right (my mother-in-law managed to get that one out of her) – she is well known in her circles for her all of her baked goods.  My maternal Grandmother (“Grandma Sue”) was also an avid baker who leaned more towards cakes and sweets.  We both spent many an afternoon on a step stool at the counters of our elders, absorbing the experiences of creating sustenance and celebratory indulgences for family and friends.  We continued experimenting throughout the years, and here we are, real live Bakers!  Doing what we love, earning a keep for our family.

We started out at the tiny St. James Market on Delaware Ave. in our Albany neighborhood in the summer of 2004, baking about 60 loaves every Tuesday in our home kitchen.  We didn’t even know we needed a permit when we started, and got shut down one day by NYS Agriculture & Markets.  Nick was heartbroken – he had baked a tremendous amount that week and we weren’t allowed to sell it (some dedicated customers bought a lot of it anyway afterwards – we called ourselves Outlaw Bakers, but our official name then was “Foster’s Famous”).  We quickly navigated our very first permitting process and were back at the market within 2 weeks.

{Washington Park Harvest Fest, Credit Jen Felitt}

We weren’t able to afford organic flours yet, but we did take advantage of the abundance of local & seasonal foods in our baked goods.  We’ve come a long way since then – we spent a few years at the New Baltimore market (as “The Artful Vegan” – we discarded that, too pretentious), and in 2009 got accepted to the Saturday Delmar FM where we made our debut as “All Good Bakers”.  We had an incredible year there in 2010 – Nick’s breads really began to take off and the market has grown to 45 producer-only vendors, with about 1500 visitors each week (we hope to increase that this year!).  With the investment of our CSB shareholders, we started using only organic flours and were soon able to get 60% of them from NY state.  We strongly feel the need to align the food-values we follow at home with the ingredients we purchase for the bakery.  We couldn’t in good conscience continue to use materials that weren’t healthy for our customers (with many of whom we have formed lasting relationships).  We are incredibly proud to be able to feed our community truly healthy breads and totally from-scratch baked goods, with the best of ingredients while supporting farmers and other small-producers in our area.  The web of conversations and knowledge-sharing that has taken place has enriched our lives and hopefully, the lives of those with whom we come in contact.  The belief and commitment our CSB members and other very valued customers (as well as friends and family) have demonstrated in us has bolstered our confidence in ways that run deep.  Those warm fuzzies are what get us (Nick in particular) through 16 hour baking days.

{All Good Bakers Open for Business, Credit Christine Hmiel}

You may have heard, we opened up our very first shop recently!  When we started our CSB, we searched desperately for an affordable kitchen to rent.  The one we found came with a tiny, cheerful retail space in an area of town that could use more people dedicated to community-building (we’re in the Pine Hills Neighborhood, home of the recent, infamous “Kegs and Eggs” incident).  Nick and I have been dreaming since we met of opening our own place, working for ourselves, feeling the satisfaction of feeding people our food that encompasses our philosophies.  Everything that was happening in our lives was pointing us in this direction.  We did an incredible amount of work to prepare for opening – the permitting process for the City of Albany is not smoothly laid out, to say the least.  Thankfully we had many friends’ help to draw upon.  Some donated or built furniture and artwork and coffee mugs, others helped paint and scrub or gave us a hand with Katie.  Many people have helped spread the word (special shout out to Chris, the editor of this here blog, for taking a special interest in us – it feels good to be noticed for what we’re doing).  Someone even anonymously donated $1000 to our bakery a few weeks ago!  Without the support of our community, we would not have come this far.  As we become more involved, we have found there are many areas in which we can help strengthen our relationships and our local food system.

We hope you’ll visit our shop for your weekly breads and baked goods on the weekends.  We’re open for limited hours for now balancing life as a young family with a fledgling business is a challenge. We’re working through it…perhaps I’ll share that story next….

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Daniel B. says:

    Welcome Britin.

    1. Thanks Daniel B.! Glad to be here!

  2. What a wonderful story! There’s a new vendor at our farmer’s market that produces out of their house around the corner from ours. Talk about supporting local businesses!

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