In 1989, several people from the late, great Wildflour Bakery in Ann Arbor got together to create the Depot Town Sourdough Bakery in Ypsilanti. The renowned Alan Scott flew in to lay the foundation for the first wood-fired brick oven. Volunteers did the rest. Around this original brick oven, a community-owned bakery was born, operated, and baked under various bakers for the ensuing 15 years.
In 2005, the adjacent Ypsilanti Food Co-op picked up where the Depot Town Sourdough Bakery left off and began operating it as the River Street Bakery. Eric Moore was hired as the head baker. When he started, the bakery was producing two kinds of bread: a regular sourdough and the popular three-seed sourdough. Since then, the Bakery has introduced about twenty new varieties, including baguettes, Cheddar Chili, Michigan Spelt, Pesto Ciabatta, Pain Rustique, Focaccia, Multigrain, Caraway Rye and Deli Rye, "Tower of Sour," Whole Wheat, Caramel Blond, and a stunning variety of seasonal specialty breads. In addition, we began introducing new local sourdough cultures into our baking.
Since 2010, all varieties of the Co-op Bakery bread are sourdough started. Different starters (our Bakery uses several) develop robust individual flavors that are unique and give each of our breads an ideal taste and tang.
In 2010, it was realized that the floor of the original brick oven had developed a serious, worsening crack and needed repair. The Co-op Bakery went on a hiatus. The Co-op bakers spent the month of May dismantling the old oven in order to rebuild. Rebuilding the new oven went smoothly but, just as we began our first week of baking at the end of June, we experienced a chimney fire. In all, about 5 months were spent in the rebuilding process, with the new oven resuming a regular baking schedule in October, 2010.
The brick oven of the Co-op Bakery uses downed wood and discarded pallets to create our baked goods. In 2010, we went even further by adding 30 solar panels to the roof. In the first months, solar energy contributed more that 80% of the Co-op Bakery's electricity needs. Our goal to make the Bakery 100% powered by renewable energy has now been realized by tweaking the installed systems, re-evaluating our energy needs and further conserving, replacing current equipment with more efficient models, etc. We hope you enjoy our Solar Bread!