Vermont bread baker Charlie Emers isn’t much of a planner. But he’s definitely a doer.
Emers lives off a dirt road in East Hardwick in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. His commercial bakery stands at the end of a long driveway next to his home, which he shares with his family.
The Rhode Island native is the owner of Patchwork Farm & Bakery, making everything from polenta to matzoh to country French bread. His Everyday Matzoh, which he makes year-round, was included in the 2019 Yankee Magazine’s Food Choice Awards.
He moved to Vermont three decades ago, and worked as a lamp maker and vegetable farmer before starting his bakery in 2001.
Emers says he stumbled into baking while he was looking for a part-time job back when his daughters were little and his wife was working at a local school. One day he stopped by a bookstore and picked up a book about building brick ovens. Before he knew it, he was installing a brick oven in an out building next to his house.
Finding Success as a Vermont Bread Baker
When Emers started baking professionally, he didn’t come up with a business plan. At first, he figured he could be both a vegetable farmer and a baker.
“I was still going to farm and I was going to bake bread. I think by the end of the third day, I was like, ‘What are you, nuts?’ How are you going to do this?’” he says. “So, the farming took a back seat…and I just jumped into (baking).”
After baking for 19 years, he sometimes still wonders about a business plan.
“I was talking to a neighbor about this recently and about business plans,” Emers says. “I said to him, ‘I never had a business plan, I should have started one.’ And he said, ‘Charlie…that’s not you.’”
You can find Patchwork Farm and Bakery bread at a variety of stores, including Buffalo Mountain Co-op & Cafe in Hardwick, Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, City Market in Burlington, Eastside Market Place in Providence Rhode Island, The Natural Grocer in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and the Littleton Co-op in Littleton, New Hampshire.
Learn more at patchworkfarmbakery.com.
Happy Vermont Podcast: An Interview with Charlie Emers
In Episode 5 of Happy Vermont, Charlie Emers talks about the joy of baking and making a life for himself in rural Vermont. You can also read my 2019 Happy Vermonters profile of Emers.
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