This is Yaroslav. He is a bread baker in the city of Bucha, Ukraine just Northwest of Kyiv. Imagine a bread bakery that invokes a whimsical feeling as if it is from a Dr. Seuss novel. A building with an aesthetic that assures you that its creators are as authentic as the mission behind its existence. Walls framed with local rough cut lumber that are insulated with readily available resources such as hay bales and plaster. All this to support a tin roof and enclose a hand built clay bread oven with a vaulted bake chamber and chimney for the fires exhaust. No more than six hundred square feet, this structure was hand built by the baker Yaroslav himself to fill a need in the rough times his community faces.
The project began when Chef Yaroslav was out of a job due to the closing of his and many other restaurants in his region due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. He and his partner decided to build a bakery themselves with resources that were available to them. In this case it was clay, straw and rough cut timber. He used these materials because they are very economical and require mostly sweat equity to build with. The ecological nature of his chosen materials were also of importance to him as well as the sentimentality it stirs up in the hearts of the elders of his community who recall childhood bakeries built in a similar style.
When asked about the impact the war has had on his operation and life, he provided anecdotal examples of rockets flying overhead and the occasional firefight occurring within earshot. He recounted the invasion of his city Bucha now known as the Bucha Massacre. His bakery was ransacked by the Russian military and all of his property was stolen or destroyed. His city however was reclaimed by Ukraine and he collected the pieces of what he had built to produce bread for his community once again. He states "War is a clear understanding that you can die from a rocket at any moment. I will say that bread literally saves my life now. Doing this business, I can support people, and they support me. I can say without exaggeration that Bread Is LIFE".
Yaroslav and his partners donate bread as a "Sacrifice to the city's territorial defense." in an effort to feed and fuel those who protect his home, bakery and city. His bakery operates mostly based on the Honor System as he is very aware that times are tough but he expects that people will leave what they can so as to support the future of fresh bread in their community. He has a small grinder which he uses to mill Whole Wheat and Rye Flour and was donated a dwindling supply of Austrian flour.
Yaroslav reached out to express his gratitude towards The Hudson Oven's method of baking and distributing bread. He enjoyed seeing the honor system based Sunday Scavenger hunts and the clay bread ovens we have built and we have shared notes on wood fired baking. I have been communicating with Yaroslav for some time now and his story has impacted me greatly. I have decided to donate a percentage of our sales from recent months of operation to support his bread baking, community feeding and joy bringing efforts in his community in Ukraine. Upon making this decision I thought it would be worth sharing his story with my community and following to see if you would like to support his efforts as well. Any amount will be greatly appreciated. You can donate officially through the following link. Thank you in advance for reading his story and for considering the decision to support.