PicnicThe Latin roots for companion means sharing of bread, com meaning with and pani meaning bread. In Russia they still celebrate companionship and hospitality by greeting visitors with bread and salt. Although both Britain and the US lost its popular bread traditions and skills a few generations ago it is never too late to reclaim this ancient art form.

In The Companion Festival of Bread, that took place at Schumacher College in Dartington in 2007, I wanted to explore the baking and sharing of bread as social sculpture. The participants were actively involved in the making of the art by learning practical skills, sharing stories and participating in talks and workshops held by prolific capacities and entusiasts for bread and cultural diversity. Renowned figures like Andrew Whitley and Satish Kumar alongside authors, artists, chefs, writers and poets like Julia Ponsonby, Joy Mead, Eilis Kirby, Esther Boukema, Mark van Will and Minni Jane. My intention was that we, by baking our own bread, can activate our senses and share our cultural activism with others in the form of good and tasty bread that will nourish our bodies and souls. This is true companionship – with our fellow humans as well as our earth.

Program: Program Festival of Bread

Compendium: Festival Compendium

Talks from The Companion Festival of Bread see soundcloud links on the right.

Short doc by Clive Ardagh about the festival:



The Companion Festival of Bread,  Schumacher College, Dartington, Devon, UK, September 2007

The festival was a one day event which included talks, participative workshops inside and out, a bread bookmaking event and a baking event for children. It all culminated in a fabulous celebratory lunch on the lawn with sharing of the bread accompanied by locally produced cheese, apple juice and honey.

Andrew Whitley:    Andrew did a talk on his journey of bread making inspired by his time in Russia. In his talk he also touched upon commercial bread making and how it works and compares to hand baking. Hear the talk in the recording below. Andrew also did a workshop on sourdough bread.


Satish Kumar:  Talk – Bread as spiritual practice and environmental   activism. Blessing and conclusion


Julia Ponsonby:  Workshop making Fancy bread; Squash bread.

Joy Mead: Workshop on bread and poetry.


Eva Bakkeslett:  Introduction – Why a bread festival? Introducing speakers and workshop holders, Information about the day Showing of the film: Alchemy – the poetics of bread. Workshop: “Sensuous” bread and poetry

Esther Boukema and Mark van Will: Esther and Mark did a presentation of their cookery workshops for children in Holland: Smaak te pakken and a workshop for children in a purpose maid cotton yurt erected on the grounds of Schumacher: “Journey of Bread – From sun to loaf”. In this interview below Esther talks about her work and the importance of children making and eating “real” food.


Minni Jain:  Minni Jain held a workshop on making chapatis that was recorded and edited into a great chapati (w)rap by Lucinda Guy from Soundart Radio.


Eilis Kirby:  Artist Eilis Kirby made an artist book BREAD capturing her impressions of the day.

Helpers:   Ann P. Topping , Minnie Jain , Phil Franses, Tamzin Pinkerton, Frank Cook

Technician/filmmaker: Clive Ardagh

Photograper:  Philip McIntyre

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