Community-supported agriculture generally means farm-to-city deliveries of fresh produce. In Johanna Bronk’s case, it means locally grown grain for her fledgling challah baking and delivery service. The 23-year-old Massachusetts native moved to Brooklyn this fall to pursue a career in opera (a mezzo-soprano, she graduated from the conservatory at Oberlin College in the spring and teaches Hebrew school to make ends meet), and she decided, at the same time, to launch a bread-baking operation. She currently offers four types of challahs: a traditional loaf with wheat flour and eggs, a vegan (that is, eggless) wheat-flour version, a spelt flour-and-egg challah, and a spelt version sans egg. The grains are cultivated and milled in nearby Pennsylvania and she uses a mix of whole grains in both her wheat and spelt versions. The organic, free-range eggs she uses are produced there as well, and to sweeten the dough, she uses vegan-approved agave nectar. Bronk admitted to us that the CSA-moniker is a bit off, connoting as it does fruits and vegetables. Going forward she’s considering marketing her efforts as a CSB: community-supported bakery or community-supported breadery.
But all that good-for-you-ness doesn’t come cheap. A monthly delivery of a weekly challah costs $36, while $88 gets you three challahs a week for the month. Business is building, slowly, Bronk said. “I’m doing most of the advertising by word of mouth and some flyering,” she said by phone, acknowledging that she’d also advertised on Craigslist. So far three committed buyers have signed up for her services; they’ve all declined to order the vegan or spelt versions. “I’m a little bit surprised that I’ve only gotten orders for the traditional challah so far,” she said, adding that friends whose advice she solicited before beginning the challah-service found alternative types of challah appealing. “Maybe the people in my area have more conventional eating taste.”