Artisanal Bucza bakery rises again thanks to Polish trio

Polewski said: “The most moving thing that we saw in Bucza was the empty streets with dogs running around, and the silence. There is no life.” Jacek Polewski/Facebook

Jacek Polewski, owner of Poznań’s Czarny bakery, has done his bit to ensure Ukraine’s artisan bakeries rise again by heading to Bucza along with his son and friend.

Polewski said: “I thought that you need to help, to act, so I typed ‘Bucza bakery’ into the search engine, and wrote to the bakery that I felt suited me best. After 15-minutes received an answer that said: come!”

Polewski said: “The most moving thing that we saw in Bucza was the empty streets with dogs running around, and the silence. There is no life.”Jacek Polewski/Facebook

The trio took 500 kg of rye with them to bake bread for soldiers and civilians, enough to produce about 1,200 loaves.

They also took flour to Kyiv, which local bakers had asked for. An online fundraiser organised by Polewski for the purchase of baking goods has so far raised PLN 36,000.

An online fundraiser organised by Polewski for the purchase of baking goods has so far raised PLN 36,000.Czarny Chleb Piekarnia/Facebook

Speaking to the TVN24 news channel, Polewski said: “The most moving thing that we saw in Bucza was the empty streets with dogs running around, and the silence. There is no life.”

Bucza, a town with a population of 36,000, came under attack on February 25th right at the start of the war. It was recaptured by Ukraine towards the end of March whereupon evidence of Russian war crimes immediately became apparent.

“This bakery in Bucza is very artisanal. The bread is mainly sourdough, made all by hand, and the oven is wood-fired,” said Polewski.Yevhen Prykhodko/Facebook

The bakery was used as a makeshift military headquarters during the town’s occupation.

“Russian soldiers cooked on the stove, made food and sat around. They left a huge amount of crap. The first two days of our stay were all about cleaning up. We were a bit afraid the Russians had left some mines, for example under paper or pallets or under a mattress, and that one of us would simply die. Luckily, nothing like that happened,” said Polewski.

Only after a full cleanup was it finally possible to light the stove and get down to the business of baking.Ярослав Бурківський/Facebook

Only after the cleanup was over was it finally possible to light the stove and get down to the business of baking.

“This bakery in Bucza is very artisanal. The bread is mainly sourdough, made all by hand, and the oven is wood-fired. Everything went well. We baked a few of these loaves, about 80 in two days,” Polewski said.

After finding a suitable candidate on Google, Polewski messaged the Bucza bakery and within fifteen-minutes had received a reply urging him to come.Ярослав Бурківський/Facebook

The bread was distributed to local residents who regularly gathered in front of one of the buildings. 

“Bread is a symbol of security, peace and abundance and this smell charms everyone,” said Polewski.

Bucza was recaptured by Ukraine towards the end of March whereupon evidence of Russian war crimes immediately became apparent.Albert Zawada/PAP

The trio are now in Kiev, baking bread there. 

“When people find out that we are from Poland, they offer soup, tea and, of course, vodka,” the baker revealed.

“What has been born between Poles and Ukrainians is something extraordinary. We must cherish it,” Polewski told the news site Onet.