Local bakery fired up about giving back

Interview by Katrina Folsom

Muddy Fork booth, Katie Zukof on left

Visit Muddy Fork Bakery at the Bloomington Farmers Market on July 4 to cool off with a homemade drink. They’ll donate 100% of drink sales to protect our beautiful landscape!

Muddy Fork Bakery in Bloomington produces bread, pastries, and granola via a traditional wood-fired brick oven. Last year, their original bakery burned down in a fire. Inspired by the community’s outpouring of support to help them rebuild, founders Katie Zukof and Eric Schedler decided to give back! They are donating proceeds from their booth at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market to sponsor Team Sycamore, our Climate Ride team, which is raising money for our conservation work.

I recently spoke with Eric about the bakery and caring about the local community and environment.

Katrina: When did you start Muddy Fork Bakery and what’s special about it?

Eric: It was in January 2010. We started it on a whim, at home at first. We only committed to the Winter Market, and then when we decided to do the summer market, we built the first oven.

It’s a wood-fired brick oven—the only commercial one in the state that I know of. It’s a single chamber direct-fired oven, so first you burn wood in the chamber, let the heat equalize and get stored in the layers of brick. Then you clean out the chamber and start baking.

Each week, we make 200 loaves of bread (3 batches in the oven), pastries, and then a few days later, granola.

Katrina: And that’s all on the original fire?

Eric: Yep, all on the original fire.

Muddy Fork's brick-oven bakery.

Muddy Fork’s brick-oven bakery.

Katrina: Tell me about the fire that burned down the bakery. When was it, and what happened?

Eric: It took place on the first day of spring in 2014; I remember it was March 21. It was a total loss, nothing could be salvaged.

We knew we were going to rebuild. We reopened in September, and in the meantime, we made granola at the Bloomingfoods commissary kitchen, pizza, and drinks to make a living.

Katrina: I gather the community response was pretty incredible…

Eric: It was amazing. Katie’s cousins put up a crowdsource fundraising campaign. It ran just 3-4 days and raised about $15,000. I know a large part of that was from the Bloomington community. It was really moving. It was a moment of clarity that we definitely wanted to rebuild. And it helped us move ahead quicker and with confidence.

There were so many unknowns at that point: what our insurance would cover, what additional expenses we might have, how much money we could earn in the meantime.

Katrina: Why do you and Katie support Sycamore Land Trust’s work?

Eric: We are excited by what Sycamore Land Trust does. Preserving the natural spaces is really important. After the community came together to help us, we realized we wanted to do more to give back.

Our bakery is located on land in northeast Monroe County, about 9 miles from downtown. We have some young woods, and a field that’s about two and a half acres which we’re letting grow back. We trim out the trees by hand, and after several years not mowing, the wildflowers are pretty amazing.

Katrina: I saw on your website you have kids who are involved in the family business?

Eric: Yes, we have two daughters: Ruth (15 months) and Leda, who is 4 years old. Leda really likes to come to the bakery and watch. She also enjoys helping with deliveries and putting stickers on the bags of granola.

Visit Muddy Fork Bakery at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market on Saturday, July 4 to cool off with a homemade drink. They’ll be donating 100% of drink sales on July 4th as part of their contribution to Sycamore’s work protecting our beautiful southern Indiana home.