In March 2020, Sheila Allison, the former Upper Columbia Academy food services director, had the idea to operate a temporary bakery at UCA to provide income for the hourly staff members impacted by the shutdown.
The bakery’s success grew over the coming months with the support of the staff and parents. The temporary bakery soon became a permanent bakery and is now known as The UCA Artisan Bakery and is helping to provide products for The Farm Stand, which has become an essential part of the campus.
“I believe one of the most rewarding parts of starting up the bakery here at UCA is our interaction with the community,” said Sheila Allison, bakery director. “As our neighbors have driven by over the past months, they have seen The Farm Stand take shape and the greenhouse overflowing with produce and have expressed excitement and anticipation of its opening in August.”
The UCA Artisan Bakery's wide variety of products include muffins, scones, cookies, baguettes, bagels and sourdough bread. Meanwhile, The Farm Stand offers seasonal produce, which include peppers, carrots, tomatoes and pumpkins. The Farm Stand held a soft-opening on Aug. 16,2021, but had been selling produce all summer at local farmers markets and to UCA staff.
Currently, baked goods are made in the UCA cafeteria so the number of products they can put out each week are limited. They are working toward funding a renovation of the former campus cafeteria building so they can operate the bakery out of that facility. Once the renovation is complete, they will be able to offer more options as well as provide advanced online ordering and cater to special orders.
Jami Fleck, bakery coordinator, and Katelyn Johnson, a baker, work with Allison to fill The Farm Stand with fresh baked goods. Once the new bakery facility is open, students will be able to participate in the baking as well. Currently, the students assist at The Farm Stand by selling products and lending a hand at the weekly local market. Students also assist Johnny Kershner, farm manager, with harvesting the vegetables from the fields and the greenhouse.
“Our presence at the local farmers market and the opening of The Farm Stand on campus has been such a wonderful outreach,” said Kershner. “The students’ involvement with the stand and interaction with the community has really been a cool thing to witness.”
The Farm Stand is currently open to the public Monday through Wednesday from 1-5 p.m. and provides additional hours for UCA students to come by during their free class periods. The Farm Stand follows the UCA school calendar and is closed during school holidays, vacations and home leaves. Once they expand the bakery, they plan to increase the hours and be open every day of the week.
For daily updates, follow them on Instagram @UCAfarmandartisanbakery.