November 10 - “It’s been so long no-one can remember the start date,” remembers Besty Hartzell, owner of Kalapuya Books, of one Cottage Grove’s favorite evenings of trade with Bread Club.
The club started about 20 years ago. Instrumental at that time were several friends, interns at Aprovecho who settled in the vicinity and who identified as real life superheroes, with missions to bring about random benefit in the community.
They could be seen at times riding into town dressed as superheroes, maybe with a bucket of daffodil bulbs for the I-5 Cottage Grove exit, or maybe with the intention to help an old person get their firewood together.
One of these loosely affiliated good people, Brian, the bread baker, helped start Bread Club, before Kalapuya Books moved into its present home, next to the Axe & Fiddle.
It turned out Brian’s sourdough bread was irresistible, and people would line up for a chance to buy or trade apricot, walnut or kalamata olive sourdough hearth bread. Meanwhile, Hal Hartzell, Betsy’s husband and co-owner of the bookstore, also happily shared, at no cost, the blackberry and plum wine which he loved to make.
Kalapuya Books at that time was a small used bookstore with an internet component, back when it was less common to sell books online. But, with Bread Club, Thursdays became a warm social event at the bookstore.
For Betsy, it's “probably our favorite day of the week.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Bread Club into hiatus until earlier last month, when eager traders began to bring back their goods.
Over the past two decades, Bread Club offered “a venue for farmer’s produce prior to the South Valley Farmer’s Market taking shape, a platform for political candidates, a jump off point for Poetry Night, opportunities for clothing exchange, and mostly, a chance to meet old friends and newcomers,” Betsy said.
The social event encourages people to come to a weekly gathering of friendly area residents, where traders have fresh food, vegetables, home crafted goods and art for purchase.
Many years back, a young man sold his homemade bread — hence the name Bread Club. The tradition continues Thursdays at Kalapuya Books, 637 E Main St. in Cottage Grove, between 4 and 7 p.m.