Happy Vermonters: Charlie Emers Bakes with Curiosity and Purpose
April 24, 2019
Charlie Emers never planned on becoming a baker.
The owner of Patchwork Farm & Bakery in East Hardwick grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. After relocating to Vermont three decades ago, his career path took a circuitous route from lamp maker to vegetable farmer to bread baker.
Emers says he stumbled into baking one winter while he was looking for a part-time job back when his daughters were young, and his wife was working at a local elementary school. He visited the local bookstore one day and randomly picked up a book about building brick ovens.
“A lightbulb went off,” he says. Before long, he installed a brick oven in a two-story building formerly used for winter vegetable storage next to his house. “I thought I could do farming and baking at the same time, but farming took a backseat.”
Baking Bread and Matzoh in East Hardwick
Since 2001, Emers has baked commercially, selling everything from polenta and matzoh to country French bread and challah. His breads are available at City Market in Burlington, Healthy Living in South Burlington, Buffalo Mountain Co-op in Hardwick, Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, as well as stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
“My first claim to fame was oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made when I was ten years old,” says Emers, who studied art at Johnson State College. “My mom baked a lot, and I learned how to bake bread from her.”
Emers is especially known for his Everyday Matzoh, which he makes year-round with ingredients that include spelt, rye, sesame, and flax seed. Matzoh is unleavened bread that is eaten to commemorate the Hebrew slaves’ exodus from Egypt. It’s eaten in place of bread for the eight days of Passover.
He first made matzoh about a decade ago when he needed a batch for a Seder and couldn’t find any at the local store. He looked up a recipe in the Bread Bakers Bible and whipped up a white matzoh. It did the trick, but he realized he wanted to set out to make a better matzoh.
“It got me thinking about what ancient matzoh would have been like, and what ancient breads looked like,” he says. “People would put nuts, meats, cheeses in the bread as bread was supposed to be a meal in of itself.”
While emmer (not to be confused with the name Emers) is an ancient grain typically found in matzoh, the Hardwick baker uses spelt—another ancient grain—as it is easier to come by and less expensive. He now grows small amounts of both emmer and spelt on his property, and is planning on making two new kinds of matzohs—a rye honey matzoh and a fennel matzoh.
When he’s not baking, Emers spends time growing garlic, potatoes, grains, and herbs on his three acres of land or making watercolor prints in his basement studio.
“I could spend the rest of my life on this little plot of land and never get bored,” he says. “I love the freedom of being up here, and I feel so blessed to be in Vermont. I don’t make a lot of money, but I do feel rich.”
For more information, visit patchworkfarmbakery.com.
–Happy Vermonters is a series of stories sharing why people love Vermont.
Jenn MacLeanPosted at 15:09h, 26 April
This is wonderful! Charlie makes the best bread (and Matzoh) in Vermont. He is also a fabulous neighbor, community member and friend. Happy to have found your blog!
EricaPosted at 20:25h, 26 April
Hi Jenn – Thanks for saying hello! Charlie is fantastic – I was so happy to finally meet him. What a wonderful friend and neighbor you have! Vermont is lucky to have him.
Peter C. MurrayPosted at 20:56h, 27 April
Charlie, congratulations on your business venture. Do you still play guitar. I remember the JSC days when it was a veritable jam session in your suite with Eric Goodrich, Nick, Dan, John Linton and all those great folks who lived in Arthur Hall on the second floor.
EricaPosted at 11:19h, 28 April
So glad you enjoyed Charlie’s profile. I will pass along your comment to him. Sounds like you shared some fun memories together at JSC! -Erica
Charlie EmersPosted at 21:19h, 10 May
Thanks Peter,yes I still pick up the old guitar.Mostly just play for myself,but those were indeed some fun times.Hope you are well.Charlie
Pam Young-LietarPosted at 07:57h, 28 April
Charlie congratulations, what a wonderful and uplifting story of finding your passion and purpose. You have a rich and rewarding life. Best to you and your family.
PS my husband and I knew your parents
PPS Wish we could get your Matzo here in Providence!!!!!
EricaPosted at 11:18h, 28 April
Hi Pam! So glad you enjoyed the profile about Charlie. I’ll pass along your comment to him. Thanks for saying hello!
Charlie EmersPosted at 21:24h, 10 May
Thanks Pam, I was selling for a little while at East Side Market Place but it was too big a store and nobody on that end took care of things. But I would love to find a ,say cheese shop or something along those lines. I had heard that a coop my be coming to Prov. That would be the place.? If you think of anything feel free to let me know.Thanks again,Charlie
Carla Serotta NeufeldPosted at 09:29h, 02 May
I tasted Everyday Matzah while visiting in Vermont for a few days and got hooked. I now enjoy my matzah in Miami with a regular bulk order every 6 weeks or so. It freezes and it’s still delicious.
Thank you, Charlie. When you need a South Florida getaway next winter, I’ll have a bedroom for you.
EricaPosted at 14:31h, 02 May
Hi Carla — Thanks for saying hello. Patchwork’s matzoh is pretty amazing! Charlie is so talented and loved by many. He makes a lot of people happy! -Erica
Charlie EmersPosted at 21:25h, 10 May
Thanks Carla you are the best,Charlie
Nancy G Sweeney, from South AlbanyPosted at 21:08h, 09 May
Best bread in VT! Especially love the blue cheese walnut and the olive bread.
EricaPosted at 13:50h, 10 May
Hi Nancy – Wow, those sound really good! His bread is amazing! Thanks for saying hello! -Erica