Not many people get to wander along moonlit country roads on their way to work in the morning.
Thembi and Lungi Hadebe set off from their Lidgetton home in the quiet hours after midnight to get to the bakery, so that Midlanders can enjoy fresh, wood-fired loaves with their lunch. Before there is even a glimmer in the sky, they have raked the coals of the fire made the day before, to ensure that the oven is the perfect temperature, and, by 3.30am, the first 40 slow-fermented loaves are in the oven. Sarah Derrett feels immensely privileged to be able to observe the dawn on baking days. “The sky is always different – pink streaks on some days, an orange glow on others. Sometimes a big moon setting just as the sun peeps over the other horizon. It is spectacular.”
Winter mornings (and plenty of summer ones) in Lidgetton are chilly. Geese huddle in the middle of the road and dogs lie tucked up against east facing walls. Walking into the bakery is like being enveloped in a big warm hug. Once the kettle is on and hands are dipping into the sourdough buckets to shape the loaves it feels like the nicest place to be in the whole wide world.
Thembi and her daughter, Lungi, were born in Lidgetton, Sarah grew up in neighbouring Balgowan. The other partner in the business, Kim Goodwin, has been in Lidgetton for decades and has long standing relationships with the community in the valley. The whole operation has a family feel about it. When Sarah’s girls were little, she used to make bread for their family at home which they called “mummy’s love bread” so when this evolved into an actual business, using Kim’s pizza oven at first, Love Bread was the obvious name. When the kids at school peer into Jasmine and Lilly’s lunch boxes and pronounce with envy “you have Love Bread for lunch!”
Much loved Rastafarian Jotham Zakwe lumbers in around 8am to start sorting the orders and delivery of the fragrant 250 loaves to restaurants, health shops and delis across the Midlands. Many customers have found to their delight that they are not as sensitive to gluten as they believed and can enjoy the slowly risen Love Bread made with Champagne Valley Flour grown in Winterton, spring water, Kalahari salt and a whole lot of love. “We love it when people come to the bakery to collect their orders – then they tell us our bread is amazing and that makes us happy and proud,” smiles Thembi.
Thembi, Lungi and Jotham all share in the profits. “In the past couple of years, it has been wonderful to watch everyone take ownership of the business. If the butter for croissants is running low, Lungi will grab some up at the trading store on her way home,” says Sarah with obvious delight. The team usually feast on still warm bread with salads picked in the abundant garden beside the bakery for lunch before wrapping up the day by early afternoon.
After making sure there are enough wattle logs to fuel the next fire, finishing deliveries and selling at markets, Sarah often gets to watch a stunning sunset on her drive home. This is a lovely reward for a day well spent with good people and good food.