Born & Bread
‘In several languages, the word for bread means life. People get very excited by good bread. It makes you popular.’
Kim Swan AKA Born & Bread has been up since 3am preparing breakfast for the morning. Dough has been kneaded and proved, and the fire has been roaring for hours, gradually heating to the temperature required to bake the freshest bread in the city.
As the city wakes up, we’re out in the elements, gathering at the city’s amphitheatre. To our left, hidden amongst the trees, is the old sweet factory where Kim calls home. In her front garden, is Sheffield’s community bread oven.
The Shrewsbury Road parish oven was reinstated using a grant from the Sheffield Year of Making Fund in 2016. The community bread oven and amphitheatre are now maintained by volunteer group, Friends of Sheaf Valley Park.
‘Bread is good for your mental, physical and social well-being. It builds communities. The more you think about bread, the more amazing it is. Basically, it’s a mixture of flour and water, only distinguished from wallpaper paste by an artful combination of time and heat.’
Designed to revive a great community tradition of baking bread, the parish oven was built using traditional methods which date from medieval times and use clay, straw and sand. Members of the community helped to build the oven and more than 70 people came together for a celebration meal once it was complete.
‘People respond to bread differently to the way they respond to other things – they’re really into it.’
The oven has been used by community groups, families and those keen to learn the art of baking bread. It’s helped people relax, formed new friendships, fed hundreds and taught skills to people across the city.
‘There is something ancient and alchemistic about transforming a sticky mess into a glorious life force with which your family can survive, commune, trade and celebrate.’
And that’s just what Sheffield’s creatives did. Guided by Kim, it was their chance to try their hand at baking their own bread outside in the community’s oven and sharing it together.
The ability to overcome adversity and withstand waves of turbulent times is part of the human spirit. In our hardwiring, it’s the oldest of threads that also fuels our creativity. Stories of survival resonate because they remind us of our inherent power to adapt and change.
A choice is always present, and survival is about choosing to move forward.