by Spencer Valdespino
Baking and community just go together. And Alaskan native Elizabeth Cotter is putting the community into her bakery with a community supported approach — instead of going to a storefront, customers sign up for weekly bread drops.
Formerly a resident of Alaska, Cotter had a bakery called “Bun on the Run” that specialized in the making and distribution of different breads. She met her husband while taking a bicycling tour around the country, and when the tour took them through the South they fell in love with the small town vibe of Thibodaux. Cotter eventually sold her Alaskan bakery and headed south to Thibodaux to continue the business — now called 12th Street Bakery.
Unlike most, 12th Street Bakery has no storefront, but is instead produced from Cotter’s home kitchen. Thanks to a Louisiana law that was passed in 2014, The Cottage Act, home bakers are allowed to bake in their own kitchens and sell their specific foods. This has helped her business grow tremendously. The promotion of the bakery is spread through word of mouth and seems to be working so far, according to Cotter. She brings her creations to the Rienzi Market on Thursday and Saturdays, and on Saturday she brings them to markets in Houma. This gives her the ability to get her product out to the public.
People of the community are able to sign up for a monthly subscription. Customers can receive one or two loaves of bread per week from pickups located at Peltier Park or the St. Francis gardens. The two loaves are broken down into two categories of artisan and sandwich variety. This past week, April 28, 12th Street Bakery produced a sunflower brand for the artisan bread and a French rosemary for the sandwich category.
Currently, 12th Street Bakery is “piggy backing” off of the community supported agriculture. CSA is a system in which farm operations are supported by shareholders within the community who share both the benefits and risks of food production. It is also a way to cut out the middle man and for the community residents to become investors who can receive weekly fresh produce items. Cotter noticed that Baton Rouge and New Orleans had CSA programs but Thibodaux did not, so she decided to start her own rendition of it.
As of now, Cotter is close to finishing her 3-year-long project of building a bakery in her backyard. She said the electricity will be assembled within the next couple of weeks, which will help quicken the process of building a business that will be able to grow and accommodate more customers. She looks to expand to more residents as well because her backyard bakery will allow her to finish more orders more quickly.
Just like her bakery in Alaska, Cotter hopes that this one will grow to be just as successful.
“This bakery has been educational to say the least,” Cotter says. “In due time, it will expand and become a promising business.”