The People’s Oven

Woman wearing apron standing in an artisan bakery, placing pizza into oven (The People's Oven)

With the cost of living rising rapidly around the world, and people not being sure what costs they can cut to make ends meet, one baker in England has come up with a solution that hearkens back to mediaeval times.

Maisie Collins, the founder and head baker of Hearth Bakery in London, saw the need that a lot of people were experiencing in Britain, in a large part due to the energy crisis sweeping through Europe. She decided to do something about it in her community.

Hearth Bakery, which Maisie opened mid last year with the intention of giving back to the community, announced in a post on social media that it would be opening its doors to home bakers and cooks in a move similar to the mediaeval tradition of communal bakehouses.

“At the moment, some people can’t afford to switch on their ovens at all, and they’re having to choose between heating and eating, which is just ludicrous,” Maisie told Reuters.

Operating on a pay-what-you-can basis, people are now able to use the industrial oven at Hearth Bakery to cook food prepared by them at home which they would otherwise not be able to heat. There is also space available for others to prepare meals using the bakery’s cooking equipment, as well as enough room for those just looking for a warm and comfortable place to spend an evening.

“We really just saw the opportunity to share in what we’ve got. Local people who are feeling the bite at the moment are welcome to pre-prepare food to come and batch cook in our ovens,” Maisie told Roman Road London.

“We want it to be the same kind of experience as going to your friend’s mum’s house for dinner.”

The People’s Oven, as it’s called, opened on 12 December 2022 and is set to run on the second Monday of every month going forward.

Hearth Bakery’s decision has prompted similar humanitarian sentiments in others in the area, with the Fresh Flour Company offering to supply flour to bakers who visit the kitchen. It is also becoming typical to see bakers at The People’s Oven bringing enough food to share with those who simply use the space as a small haven of warmth.

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