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Handmade bread shop opens in quiet town

DIXON – A charming little bread shop opened last weekend at 147 A Street in a building built in 1912. With an exterior the color of cotton candy, colorful art decorating the interior walls, and a wheelbarrow full of wood waiting next to the stove, Backerei Provincial (German for Provincial Bakery) officially opened March 3.

A steady stream of customers stopped in to admire handmade loaves of bread, a basket of pretzels, and other artisan style creations. The shop sold out of inventory one and a half hours after opening their doors for the first time. 

Owner Shay Farmer decided to name her bakery after the German style bread she prefers. As a child, she lived in Germany and the taste of delicious handcrafted bread common in the country stayed with her.

Farmer worked for a few months to get ready for the opening day, calling it a rustic bakery. She shares the space with artist Crystal Kingston – which is where the original art decorating the walls comes from. 

Farmer’s focus is on savory items like rustic breads with poppy or sesame seeds and handmade pretzels. She has a simple round loaf, called a boule, baked in the oven without a square pan. She also makes bread with everything on it including salt, pepper, garlic and seeds. Small hand-sized breads are also on the menu, and she calls them “rye pucks” because they look like hockey pucks. 

She strives to make her breads with organic products and Montana grown grains. She even mills the grain on site. “I use a couple simple ingredients,” she said. 

Her husband, John Boudreau, pulled a warm loaf of bread from the oven with a large flat paddle like tool. He said every style of bread has its own routine, and several of the breads take hours of preparation time with at least 12 hours of rest to rise before being put in the oven.

Joe Arnold traveled to the bakery to find out how cheese from his Flathead Lake Cheese shop tastes after being melted on the pretzels, which is one of the items on the menu. He said the bakery and the cheese shop were teaming up on a few things. He bit into a pretzel and after experiencing the flavor he said: “I’ve got to have another.”

He said the bakery was a “wonderfully gorgeous thing.” He looked around at the unusual building with its white tin ceiling, wood floors and warm colors. “I love this space,” he said.

Looking at the menu of items, he thought the handmade rye bread would be delicious grilled together with his apple-wood smoked cheese.

Arnold hopes to continue working with the bakery as it develops. He said he remembers when his business was just starting out six years ago.

“After going through the ringer, we’ve got an idea of what they will go through, so we want to help,” he said. “Sustaining small business is important. Besides, it’s great bread, not mass produced.”

Farmer said she hopes to work with other small businesses in the future and working together might be a way to help them thrive. She also developed a community supported bread share or CSB as she calls it. 

The program is a monthly subscription that allows people to pick up a fresh loaf every week. The program ensures a customer will get their bread. On Saturday, the bread sold pretty quickly, much faster than Farmer expected. She will also be selling the bread at the Mission Falls Farmers Market this summer. 

She said she would be making more bread for the official grand opening on Saturday, April 7. The bakery is now open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. They can be found on Facebook or by calling 1-802-735-6680.

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