At Hylsten Bakery we use organic, U.K. grown, stoneground flour to bake delicious, nutritious sourdough bread. We work directly with farmers and millers with the aim of building resilient local food networks and grain economies. The bakery school is our way of sharing this knowledge of sourdough baking and love for good food with our community.
Hylsten was founded by Kate Marton and Megan Nash in May 2020.The pair met in 2017 working in the kitchen at Embercombe, a residential education centre in South Devon, and instantly connected over a mutual love of good food, farming, and sustainability.
The intention for Hylsten’s bread was clear; to only use U.K. grown stoneground flour and to work directly with the farmers growing the grain.
In what felt like a serendipitous meeting we were introduced to Andrew Gilhespy who was also in the early stages of setting up his business, Fresh Flour. Andrew works directly with local farmers to ensure they receive a better price for the grain than they would get through the commodity market. In doing this Andrew hopes that the farmers can invest more in growing alternative grains which ‘express unique flavour, nutrition and distinctive traits suited to low input growing’
We met Andrew at a pivotal moment when he was looking to expand his operation and as luck would have it the unit next door to Hylsten was still unoccupied. It wasn't long before we had Andrew as our neighbour and could use his flour at its freshest, coming straight off the mill.
Alongside Fresh Flour Hylsten also uses U.K grown stoneground flour from Shipton Mill and are active members in the South West Grain Network - an alternative, human scale, non-commodity grain economy.
In November 2020 after working tirelessly on the set up and first few months of trading, Megan went on maternity leave and Kate was joined by Mitch Pearce from E5 Bakehouse who was instrumental in the growth of bakery over the next 12 months.
The Bakery School was set up in September 2021. We had the pleasure of collaborating with the charity Veterans Outdoors to provide a safe space to a group of women to explore the healing capacity of bread making. We continue to run monthly Sourdough Bread Making Courses for the public and are on the lookout for more charitable collaborations
On the 19th December 2021 a fire broke out in the oven due to a timer malfunction. The oven was written off and although the fire was fairly contained, the smoke damage managed to seep into every crevice of the bakery.
The fledgling business didn't have the capital to sustain such a hit. Just when it looked as if we might lose everything, a wonderful group of customers came together to set up a Go Fund Me campaign to save the bakery. Our community both local and further afield completely blew us away raising £28,000 in just over 6 weeks. This enabled us to pay our staff while we were closed, funding all of the repairs and a buying us a brand new oven to get us baking again.
After a closure of 4 months the bakery opened its doors again and we haven't looked back since. Sadly, just before reopening Megan decided to leave the business and focus on other projects close to her heart.
The bakery continues to strive towards Megan and Kate’s initial vision and it is this vision which forms the heart of day to day decisions and future planning. Our third year sees a very exciting partnership with Tim from Erth Barton and Crocadon Farm. We will be working with Tim to grow much of the grain we will use in 2023. This will enable a deeper connection to the land and a more sustainable future for the grain used in our bread.
Kate has been a baker for many years now. Her most influential training came from her time at E5 Bakehouse in Hackney, London. It was here that she deepened her knowledge of sourdough baking and relocalising grain economies. She also had the opportunity to teach both bread and pizza making on a weekly basis as well as leading a cohort for the Just Bread programme with the Refugee Council.
Kate discovered her love of bread making in her early twenties following some time spent working on a permaculture farm in Portugal. It was there that she realised that industrial agriculture has one of the largest impacts on the environment of any global industry. Wheat is one of the most widely grown crops in the world and so she saw what an impact it might have if that grain was grown in a more sustainable way.
Hylsten is a culmination of this learning with the goal to provide nourishing delicious, sustainably produced bread available to as many people as possible. Kate is equally passionate about the other arm of the business - the Bakery School and hopes to develop a variety of community outreach programs empowering people to bake at home.
Ollie joined the team in June 2022 and brings with him a wealth of knowledge from his extensive career. Ollie had spent the previous two years working in Paris at Ten Belles who widely regarded for making some of best sourdough in the city.
Before that he was at The Dusty Knuckle in London where he was responsible for leading a team of bakers in a high volume production as well as teaching weekly bread making classes.
Ollie's career began at Lamaro Bakery in Totnes. It was there that he was sent over to Italy for an intensive few months of training. This experience along with a multitude of stages has given Ollie a real depth of knowledge as both a bread baker and pastry chef.
Sales Lead and Baker
Benji started his journey into all things grain with his role as trainee miller alongside Andrew at Fresh Flour. It was there
that he started to learn the art of milling and fell in love with the intricacies of working with a wide variety of
locally grown grains.
Benji has been behind the scenes at Hylsten from day one and we were lucky for him to join us as an official member of the team in June 2022. His role is split between Sales Lead / Office Manager and Trainee Baker.
Much like Benji, George has been part of the Hylsten crew from the early days. He officially joined the team as baker in November 2021 and played a huge role in the renovations after the fire in December 2021; single handedly repainting our entire ceiling; all 1000sqf of it!
George splits his time between the bakery and his other passion; ceramics, throwing pots in every spare minute he has. You can check out his work here.
Zia joined the team in July 2021 and is an absolute power house on the dough shift and the bake (she puts the rest of the team to shame!) She also makes a mean curry (and seriously good kimchi). We are lucky enough to be treated to her cooking every week during our staff lunches.