Public Bakeovens

Contact

mail@publicbakeovens.ca

Search

Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


Custodians:

Fairmount oven correspondence February 2020

Feb.2, 2020, from Lottie White to bakers

Thank you to Heidrun for putting us through our paces so expertly, and helping us to make a start at understanding the idiosyncrasies of the Fairmount oven.

Thank you to the Parks supervisors, Laura and Tim, and foreman, John, for attending, taking an interest in the potential of the bake oven as a community resource, and offering to work on resolving some of the oven-related issues. (I don't have email addresses for them, so if you (Marietta? Rishab?) do please forward this message on to them.)

Thank you to Marietta and Brad Bradford's office for arranging the training session, and to Marietta for being part of the discussion.

Thank you to the Friends of Fairmount Park who took part, contributing time, effort, pizza, water, tea, coffee, wood, kindling, and more...

And if I've forgotten anyone, I apologize and extend thanks to you too.

A synopsis of training bake 1

We lit the fire at about 12:15 p.m., and slowly built it up and pushed it back into the oven over about three hours as the sides and ceiling of the chamber turned white.

Around 3:30 p.m. the oven temperature was reading about 500 F. We cleaned the front part of the hearth to ready it for baking pizza, and the pizza went in and was baked (by about 3:57 p.m., according to the time stamp on the photo I took).

The temperature in the middle of the oven was still reading 500 F (not high enough it turned out), and we decided to spread the coals out across the hearth to even out the heat throughout the oven, before removing the coals and preparing the hearth for baking some sourdough loaves.

Around 4:15 p.m., we removed the coals using the ash rake, shovel, and bucket we had on hand, and placed them in the ash receptacle.

We closed the outer metal door for about 15 minutes to stabilize the heat throughout the oven (standard practice in a properly sealed bake oven), knowing that we would lose some heat up the flue (which is inside the outer door).

Unfortunately the temperature in the middle of the oven by 4:40 p.m. was down to 375 F. We decided to chance it and put in two loaves at the very back of the oven, hoping that they would still rise and bake. And they did. Partially.

At 5:18 p.m., the temperature was down to about 250 F, the loaves had risen but were whitish with a softish crust. They were taken across the street to be finished off in Gail's home oven.

What we learned

Three hours of firing seemed to be enough to heat the oven for baking pizza, but clearly not enough for baking bread.

A metal wheelbarrow would speed up the ash removal process.

An inner door or plug is needed to prevent the heat from escaping up the flue once the coals are removed and the oven is prepped for bread baking using the retained heat in the chamber.

Finally... the pizza was deliciously comforting on that cold winter afternoon. And the bread survived the "bakus interuptus" and was enjoyed the next morning.

So there you go. Some thoughts. Next time I aim to document the timing and temperatures better. The numbers mentioned above mostly come from my memory of the day and the few photos I took.

Here's to many more bakes in future!

Feb.3, 2020, from Rishab to Lottie

Thanks for this resource Lottie, sounds like a very informative day! I am passing this message on to Laura too and hope she can pass along to Tim and John. I'm sure they will appreciate the appreciation.

As I mentioned in a previous email, we're happy to work on finding ways to make it as easy as possible for everyone to actually use the oven. We need everyone to row in the same direction and cooperate respectfully as we work through that. We all have the same goal of seeing the oven used as much as possible, but do have different roles and responsibilities in that process. Barry, Tina, Gail are going away for a little while. I will find a time to meet with our PFR team to work through some options for regular oven access when everyone's back.

In the meantime, a reminder that you can book the oven by calling 416-396-SERV (7378) from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday Ė you can pay the fees there (visa, mastercard and Amex). The cost is $14.05 permit fee for a resident plus $27 insurance for a group of 1-25 people (total $41.05).

Looking forward to enjoying some delicious bread from the oven soon!

Feb.3, 2020 from Joseph

I donít like this at all.
Lottie did a nice report but I donít want Parks or the city thinking everything is now swimming along and we have great gratitude etc....itís still a crap storm in a whole pile of ways. Parks have not been cooperative at all, in fact theyíve been evasive and more nasty than nice- and we have to remain polite but also keep the pressure on.

Feb.3, 2020, from Gail to bakers

We are on for 9:30a.m. tomorrow. The oven will be open for us, so get kneading! If I missed anyone, let them know.

Feb.3, 2020, from Lottie

Super! Thanks Gail. I'll be there. I've jump started the leaven. And will have some loaves to bake of one sort or another! Hopefully we can fire the oven up long enough to get it piping hot.

Also, I was thinking of bringing some bricks along to create a temporary plug for the inner opening. An idea I got from Alan Scott's book... What do you think?

Feb.4, 2020, from Deborah

Well, an education of sorts today.

Thanks again for support from Jutta and Dale!!

Looking forward to the next bake.

Feb.4, 2020, Jutta to Peter White

Being at today's Fairmount bake oven practice session was....interesting. It's pretty clear by now that a discussion needs to happen to clarify the city's approaches, and -- in partnership with people involved in using the ovens now -- to look at what will make bake ovens work well for neighbourhoods. Community ovens are more like community gardens than like hockey permits and that needs to be thought out, seems to me.

When the bake oven policy was first passed in 2011, city council directed PFR to report back to the (then) Parks and Environment Committee after two years on "how the details of the permitting, fees, construction and operations are working" (history here). As far as I know, that report hasn't happened yet. Now is a good chance to take a look.

First step is to figure out current oven use, city fee income, agreements etc. for the existing ten park ovens in our list. Could you put me in touch with a staff person who can tell me that information over the past five or so years?

If that's a question that needs to go through freedom of information, let me know and I can put in the request.

And then I hope you agree that this is a good discussion to begin. I think it's called "cross-sectoral," maybe -- with one of the sectors being neighbourhood oven bakers. Nice and practical. Do you agree?

Feb.6, 2020, Gail Ferguson to Peter White

Thanks for arranging access to the bake oven in our park on Tuesday Feb 4th. We would like to continue practising with the oven as we encountered different conditions this time, affected by weather, wood, equipment available, etc. Please see attached summary.

Could we schedule a practice session for further training on February 25th? We would like to start at 9:30 a.m.

I have copied Lottie White on this request as I will be out of town and cannot participate in the next practice session. I have also copied our trainers: Jutta and Dale.

Feb.10, 2020, from Peter White to Gail Ferguson

I will cannot authorize another training session at this time. We are working out permitting details with the Councillor's office and will be meeting with him this week. I will follow up with you by the end of the week.

Feb.10, 2020 from Jutta to Barry

Barry, how much does the city charge you every year for making the Fairmount ice rink? Has it changed over the years?

Feb.10, 2020, from Barry to Jutta

We pay nothing fee or insurance wise ever.
About 3 years ago annually the city started annually to have us fill out a form as to the names of the senior volunteers; I donít know what this is for-maybe insurance or something but Iím guessing, and the city hasnít disclosed intentions, ....maybe itís just for the city having named contacts in case they need to get in touch with someone.
All this oven nonsense is about control by parks. Councils office hates all this stuff. Control is important for sure but in the case of the oven, itís at a ludicrous level.
I, Gail, Tina and Joe are supposed to be at the table with parks and councillor office in a few weeks to iron out processes. So to just blockage usage in the meantime is draconian to say the least

Feb.11,2020, from Barry Ross to Rishab Meghan, City Councillor Brad Bradford's office

Rishab, this runs counter to our agreement worked out a couple of weeks ago to work through processes together and we could get permits interimly by applying to Parks by tel call etc.

Feb.10, 2020, from Jutta to Barry

Barry, how much does the city charge you every year for making the Fairmount ice rink? Has it changed over the years?

Feb.10, 2020, from Barry to Jutta

We pay nothing fee or insurance wise ever.

About 3 years ago annually the city started annually to have us fill out a form as to the names of the senior volunteers; I donít know what this is for-maybe insurance or something but Iím guessing, and the city hasnít disclosed intentions, ....maybe itís just for the city having named contacts in case they need to get in touch with someone.

Feb.11, 2020 Jutta to Peter White

Hi Peter, Since I got no response from you to my last week's suggestion of a parks bake oven meeting, I assume I should just go ahead and file my public ovens use/revenue request with FOI. Yes?

Feb.11, 2020, from Peter Woodcock (City Councillor Brad Bradford's office) to the bakers

I'm sharing a new training video that has just come out and is very helpful to see the process. I'm also attaching a link to the permit below. If you need help or have any question, I'm happy to help.

https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/venues-facilities-bookings/booking-park-recreation-facilities/simple-permit-booking/

Bake Oven training video: Using an Outdoor Oven in a City Park

Feb.11, 2020, Jutta to Jode at Christie Pits

have you seen the city's training video for how to use an outdoor oven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NY9e1L0F0Q&feature=youtu.be

Rather a tour de force
911 is a handy number to have, as the video says.
The pizza will be a bit chewy because of the embers, and a bit dusty, since there's no mention of cleaning the hearth, but the crust looks so thick that people can probably peel away the rough bits.

I can see it's made at your new Christie oven, which is only right.

Feb.11, 2020, Jode to Jutta

This is amazing. Like the part where they talk about a wood peel and show a metal one... because they kept lending out the friends of christie pits peels and they all got burnt beyond recognition. We have nice tools, but I hid them in a different room so they couldn't find them. And suggesting people put sand into the oven to put out the fire.

I had suggested doing a video tutorial in a meeting with city staff a while back. Nice to see they listened to that part. But they didn't listen to the part about putting a sign on the ovens telling people that it is an oven for the public to use. Or the part where I again requested blanket permits for community groups.

And so it goes.

Feb.11, 2020, from Rishab to Barry

I donít think this is out of line with what we've been discussing in the last couple of weeks.

Our office is meeting with Parks staff this week to get the ball rolling on a long term solution to the permits like we discussed two weeks ago. This is also to respect everyone's time so we actually have some action items and next steps when we all meet as a group.

If Peter White is saying he can't book more training it's probably because Parks has already organized a few city-run training sessions. I believe three staff were at the last one and there's simply a resource issue with having Parks staff run training sessions.

You (or anyone in the city) can still book the oven and coordinate a training for a larger group. To be clear, booking a training and booking the oven are two different things.

As a reminder you can book the oven through this process: call 416-396-SERV (7378) from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday Ė you can pay all fees there (visa, mastercard and Amex). The cost is $14.05 permit fee for a resident plus $27 insurance for a group of 1-25 people (total $41.05).

If Lottie, Jutta and Dale want to train/practice, the only option right now is to follow this process. Again Ė I know that permit fee is an issue. That is what Brad and I are working on with Parks staff. I can't be any clearer that, unfortunately, it's going to take some time until we have an alternative solution.

For Winterfest Ė Peter Woodcock has submitted all of the permits for you and our office will cover those costs. Expense policy requires us to have Brad's name on the poster. I'm not sure who's meant to get that done but that's the only outstanding issue (Peter can clarify if I'm mistake).

Happy to discuss futher if needed.

Feb.11, 2020, from Barry to Rishab

Thank you Rishab.
Thatís a good and very helpful clarification. And Iíll make sure the local team understand that booking and self training can still carry on while we iron out processes.
Itís unfortunate that Peter W didnít communicate the self training option.....anyway we will carry on locally that way and as you and I discussed.

Feb.11, 2020, email from Jutta to Rishab

we've not met but since you have me on this thread -- I got the first city park oven built at Dufferin Grove 25 years ago and then two more, including the one that was brought over to Fairmount. In connection with what you wrote below: just FYI, I will not be helping out in any "training" sessions that charge a fee for people to practice. Nobody should pay 5 cents in order to be allowed to do the work involved in learning how to make food in a wood-fired oven. Just saying. Happily, I hear that the city doesn't charge people to do all the work of flooding natural ice rinks.

Also, a little caution: the optics are not very good here -- of even suggesting that people should pay to learn (on their own time) that age-old method of cooking/baking, with all the benefits that can bring to a public space.

If your office would like to understand a bit more about public bake ovens in Toronto, you could have a look around our publicbakeovens.ca website - lots of good stuff there.

I have added a few more names to this thread, of park bakers in other parts of the city who may be interested in what's happening with the Fairmount oven. It's sad that there are not more bakers -- but most ovens don't get much use because the city's terms don't presently make sense.

Feb.11, 2020,from Rishab to Jutta

Thanks for your note Jutta. I know you've done great work bringing bake ovens to communities around the city. I can't thank you enough.

I know a number of the names you've added to the thread, have seen documentaries about their work. Incredible community leaders.

I am offering the solutions I have. Neither I, nor Councillor Bradford have a solution to address the cost of access to this oven at the moment. That is what I am asking for time to resolve. Whether we like it or not we all have to work together to find a solution. That's my job, and the approach the Councillor is interested in. I think we're all in agreement.

Feb.11, 2020, from Dale Howey to Rishab

ďNeither I, nor Councillor Bradford have a solution to address the cost of access to this oven at the moment.Ē

Itís clear that the city has no overall strategy for dealing with ovens as there is no consistent policy across the city. A good example is Regent Park where good use of the oven is being made through the proactive efforts of the CRC/Fred Victor and Friends of Regent Park (of which I am a member.) The local city administrator there has understood that their oven is a resource that should not be wasted and has given these groups wide latitude in its use.

Any booking fees for these training activities would be eaten up by city staff costs so the best way for us to use OUR oven (we as taxpayers are the owners) is to come up with a bulk package of several training days, give us access to the key and allow the training to proceed without wasting more city salary hours.

From a liability perspective I canít see any larger risk to the city than concussion risks incurred by skaters on rinks, or kids playing soccer on city fields. Iíve been involved in the production of 30,000 plus loaves of bread at Montgomerys Inn without incident as well as countess other products at Regent Park, Black Creek Community Farm and Sorauren Park ovens without problems so I think we need to keep this in perspective as well.

Please donít be an impediment to community engagement.

Feb.12, 2020,from Peter White to Jutta

I apologize for not responding sooner.

Customer service would have fee information on bake ovens. Nellie Raposo DeMers is a Permit Officer who may be able to provide information. Her number is (416)338-2614. I do understand your concerns as we have been trying to work through things with the group at Fairmount. As far as the report is concerned, I do not know where that stands. I have a meeting with Councillor Bradford tomorrow to discuss the bake oven issues.

Feb.12, 2020, from Jutta to bakers

I had an email from Peter White this morning suggesting I could ask Nellie Raposo from permits my question about the past 5 years of oven use city-wide (10 park ovens) and revenue, plus the specific agreement in place for each. Instead of going through FOI.

Feb.12 2020, from Joel Campbell at Sorauren Park

I'm working on a scheme to get our oven to be used more but last summer was our best yet. There was one week where the oven was used 7 out of 8 days in a row.....

Feb.12, 2012, Jutta to Joel

Do you lend out peels, buckets, rakes/hoes/scrapers etc? Or do people bring their own?
Prep tables? Washroom access?\\How do you know how many people have been using the oven -- is your Sorauren park group involved in booking?

Feb.12, 2020, Joel to Jutta

We don't lend out anything. Washroom access is available if Fieldhouse is open. If not, you'd have to arrange it. I've requested to have a porta potty on site for next spring summer fall to augment our washroom facilities. City agreed. So at least we'll have that next year

Don't know how many people use it officially.

We're not involved in booking.

Feb.12, 2020, from Jutta to Nellie Raposo

I think it makes the most sense for me to just forward you the letter I wrote to Peter on Feb.4., so here it is below. What I would request, through FOI if needed, to start a well-grounded conversation, would be "please send me an electronic record of the last 5 years of outdoor park bake-oven use, city fee income, and the specific agreement in place for each individual oven."

FOI is required to respond to a request within 30 days. This one is pretty straight-forward, so I think FOI would keep within that timeline. If your supervisor could give me an idea this week of how long before you can answer my questions, that would make it clearer which route I should go. Perhaps the information is already at hand, that would be ideal. If it's going to be slower, I'd like to submit my FOI request on the weekend. Also, maybe the two-year follow-up report that the council committee requested in 2011 exists somewhere -- if so, could I see it?

Feb.12, 2020, from Nellie to Jutta

Thank you for your emails. I have forwarded your requests to my management team. You should receive a response shortly.

Feb.17, 2020, Jutta to Nellie

I did not hear back from your manager so I have submitted my request to Freedom of Information. I'm guessing that Parks does not currently have that information all in one place so it will be helpful to your department to be required to assemble it as well. If you do already have it, you could let FOI know and that way we won't be adding to their workload.

As well, I'd like to find out the answer to the other question I asked in my email to you: Also, maybe the two-year follow-up report that the council committee requested in 2011 exists somewhere -- if so, could I see it?

Feb.18, 2020, Nellie to Jutta

My apologies for the delay and that you did not hear back. I have been advised that your request will need to go through as a FOI request.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Feb.18, 2020, Jutta to Nellie

so does that mean that I need to ask for the 2-year follow-up report that the committee of council asked for in 2011, about the outdoor bake oven policy, through MFIPPA as well?

Feb.18, 2020, Nellie to Jutta

This information can be found at the following link: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/pe/bgrd/backgroundfile-61303.pdf

I hope this information helps.

Feb.18, 2020, Jutta to Nellie

Thanks Nellie, yes, that helps.
So it looks like the original request by Council -- at the council meeting of Dec.1, 2011 -- was never carried out: "City Council direct the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, in collaboration with the community representatives, local stakeholders and councillors, to report back to the Parks and Environment Committee two years after implementation of the policy on how the details of the permitting, fees, construction and operations are working."
Also, the document you sent contains a March 15, 2013 letter from Councillor Ana Bailao asking for "the number of hours during which each bake oven was actually permitted for use during the last five years."
That report seems not to have been done either -- or did I miss it?

There is however an interesting reference to a publicly available "dashboard" --

City Council direct that the Parks, Forestry and Recreation website contain a regularly updated dashboard consisting of information gathered through park/facility inspections and permit issuance
When I searched online for that dashboard, I couldn't find it. Can you send me the link? Thank you,

Feb.22, 2020, from Jode Roberts to oven users citywide

I have been in conversation with various city staff over the past few years about the possibility of having annual licenses/permits for community groups to use public bake ovens on a regular basis, based on our experience in Christie Pits and my understanding of what has happened in other parks. I was interested in formally taking this issue to the city on behalf of groups involved in using the ovens. But first wanted to confirm what the setup was for use of each oven, as I know it varies wildly.

My questions for each of you:

1. Do you get permits for use of the oven in your park/facility?

2. How often does your group use the oven?

3. Would you be interested in having an annual permit, ideally no-fee, that allows your group to use the oven on a regular basis (e.g. for monthly or weekly pizza or bake nights)?

Context: I've been trying to muster interest in using the oven in Christie Pits for the past seven years. In partnership with Pizzeria Libretto (and through my day job at the David Suzuki Foundation), we've hosted three or four very popular pizza night fundraisers each year. Through Friends of Christie Pits, we've done a few (considerably less popular, but still nice) pizza nights per year, as well. There has been an uptick in use of the oven by residents since a new oven was built (against our wishes) in 2016, but I would argue it could be used much more often.

Feb.24, 2020 Jutta to group

Hi -- I think Gail had asked for Feb.25, tomorrow -- Peter said he's have to meet with the councillor first -- any news?

Feb.25, 2020, Gail to group

No contact from Peter White since he said no on Feb 6th. Not sure how best to move forward. Lottie wants to bake on March 10th and doesnt know if she should go the permit route.

Jutta to Gail: Persistence is good, and it's cheaper than a permit. Maybe it would be good to remind Peter and cc the councillor that they said they'd get back to you: Feb.10, 2020, from Peter White to Gail Ferguson

I will cannot authorize another training session at this time. We are working out permitting details with the Councillor's office and will be meeting with him this week. I will follow up with you by the end of the week.

It's always important to get them to do what they said they'd do. And if they still don't answer, that builds your case. Plus, asking for a specific date is good because it gives a deadline. Lottie needs to practice so her bread doesn't burn, and March 10 is the day she needs the key.

Barry to group: Per my discussions with Brads office previously, when Gail and Joe are back, Brads office will convene a meeting with them, us (Joe, Gail, Tina, me) and PFR to iron out all procedures towards better and cheaper efficiencies. Until then we were requested to use the permit process. Joe/Gail- are you back? If so Iíll let Rishab know to get on with convening this meeting ASAP

Jutta to Barry: I just read down the thread in your email and saw this from Rishab:

You (or anyone in the city) can still book the oven and coordinate a training for a larger group. To be clear, booking a training and booking the oven are two different things.

But I don't understand what's different, if there's the same fee for either. I'll be interested in the outcome of your conversation.

 

Back to front page


hosted by WordAndData.com | powered by pmwiki-2.2.80
Content last modified on March 03, 2020, at 07:08 PM EST