A bakery in North Yorkshire, England, is helping local residents save money on energy bills and find a sense of community, all by reviving a practice that the owner says hasn’t been seen in those parts for centuries: the community oven.
With energy costs rising in the United Kingdom, chef, baker, and owner of the Brickyard Bakery Ed Hamilton-Trewhitt first had the idea to turn part of his establishment into a “warm lounge,” a space for local residents who are struggling during the ongoing energy crisis to come, spend time indoors, and find some warmth — provided, at no extra cost to Hamilton-Trewhitt, by the residual heat from his bakery’s ovens.
He also expanded that plan by opening up the use of the oven itself to the community so that they don’t have to pay energy costs to bake their own Christmas cakes. People can drop their uncooked cakes off at the bakery on a Friday and pick them up the following Monday, cooked and decorated, free of charge.
“With the current financial climate and soaring bills, many of our customers are having to cut back this Christmas,” Hamilton-Trewhitt said. “One of the real tragedies is the loss of a great family tradition and the expression of love that goes into baking for our nearest and dearest.”
“Who knew a species whose entire evolutionary history was dedicated to building small communities and sharing resources to improve nourishment would thrive when… You know… Building small communities and sharing resources,” writes one user.
“I bet the warming room smells good!” adds another.
When commenting about the warming room, Hamilton-Trewhitt said, “I’m not suggesting that this is the answer to the energy crisis but it could be an answer to help some people, especially elderly people who may live on their own or who may not have a great deal of family. I know they’re going to really struggle to heat their houses and I know that a lot of the time, they’re quite lonely.”