One of the important aspects of the #WeAreYQQ Project is celebrating the creatives and entrepreneurs who are at the hear of the Comox Valley’s entrepreneurial culture. The monthly series of profiles of Comox Valley Farmers’ Market farmers and vendors is a good example of how we’re doing that. In this March 2016 Market profile the focus is on Will Bruce and Willovic Farm Bakery.
There are a number of good reasons to get to the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market early. Fresh produce is one of them. The best cinnamon buns in the world is another. They’re made by Will Bruce at Willovic Bakery. And they’re only avaialble at the Saturday Market.
But there’s a lot more to Willovic than cinammon buns. Owned by Will and Vickey Bruce, the bakery produces a variety of what Will calls “healthy, earthy, chewy” breads.
There are authentic Montreal-style boiled bagles. There’s a 100% sour dough rye bread made in the European style. There are whole wheat loaves. And recently baker Will’s been producing a lovely spelt bread.
As for the cinammon buns, the original recipe comes from the Denman Island Cafe. “My former wife and I leased the Cafe in the early 1980s for 1 year,” Will explains. “I’ve changed a couple things, but it’s basically the Cafés house recipe.” It’s a good one. And the dozens and dozens of cinammon buns that Will produces often sell out well before closing time at the Market.
Will says he always wanted to bake. But his mother wouldn’t let him bake at home. He’s not sure why.
He does know that as soon as he left home he taught himself to bake. After that, “I started baking, people kept eating what I baked, and I never stopped.”
A series of happy events moved him to take it from casual hobby to commercial success. through a series of happy events. First, he and Vickey came to understand that the Market is a “wonderful place to be” via a Market-based coffee business they’d run for several years. Then, a German mason built him a wood-fired brick oven on his farm. “The stars aligned, and I got to follow my passion!”
“The Market is essential to our business,” Will states. “If the Market wasn’t here I wouldn’t be selling; I’d still be baking for fun.” He says that, with the Market supplying half his income, “it’s our bread and butter.”
The Willovic Farm Bakery isn’t unique. As Vickey Brown, Executive Director of the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, puts it, the Market is a local food business incubator. At any one time there are up to 80 businesses in various stages of development at the Market. Most are small, but some are thinking BIGer. And all are contributing to the economic development of the Comox Valley region.
For more information about the Market and to sign up for the regular newsletter, please go to www.cvfm.ca.
@hanspetermeyer on Twitter