Stories from Ukraine
I’ve worked as a television news producer and writer for 34 years - but I’m also an enthusiastic home baker and food instagrammer, and for the last year I have been helping volunteers on the ground in cities across Ukraine.
I began my TV career covering the velvet revolution in Prague and the fall of the USSR - later I switched to US politics, did a masters at Harvard and helped to cover a series of US elections. Now I’m based in the newsroom and keep my colleagues regularly supplied with cake, which surely can never be a bad thing.
FLOUR POWER: stories of food and resistance in wartime Ukraine - will help me give a platform to the voices of the incredible people I meet here every day. People who spend their weekends driving to the front lines to deliver aid. Who get up after a sleepless night hearing Russian missiles exploding outside, to open up their shops and cafes and try to keep life going. Who drop everything to help out when there’s yet another emergency inflicted on their land.
These are the stories I can tell - through the eyes of the wonderful non profit group I am here with - Bake for Ukraine, which was started by friends who worked together in the Ukrainian food industry for years - to support the work of bakers who give away free bread to people in need, and to share resources and knowledge about Ukrainian bread culture. We’re currently on a journey to purchase a mobile bakery to enable more flexible food supply to the people most affected by the full scale war.
Bread is such a central part of Ukrainian food and culture - but Russia’s deliberate and relentless strikes on civilian infrastructure have left so many people without electricity and water, their homes and farmland destroyed. We want the mobile bakery to become part of the effort to bring that simple joy of fresh bread to people who haven’t had access to it for months.
There will be three types of membership…
Free subscribers will get a weekly newsletter charting our journey - but also documenting some of the incredible stories I come across out here in Ukraine.
PAID MEMBERSHIP £6 month/£65 a year
I won't be taking a penny myself from this Substack, instead your money goes directly those who need it most - our brave Ukrainian bakers. We already support an organic wheat farmer and small volunteer bakeries in Odesa, Kyiv, Bucha, Kharkiv and Kherson who rely on donations so they can keep going and provide free bread to those in need. We hope the mobile bakery will bring fresh bread to even more people who need it - and any funding will go towards flour, fuel and running costs. Occasionally some of the money will go to help others in need working within the food industry here, who often have to deal with acute emergencies caused by war. I will always let you know who that is. In other words - YOU will help make a real difference.
But here's what else you'll get:
Extra stories and videos
Sometimes extra stories behind the scenes - we can take you inside these bakeries and homes… and answer whatever you want to know about what it’s like for people in Ukraine during the full scale war. Again it’s not my story to tell, but I can try to give space to Ukrainian voices and experiences, to give you more insight and knowledge into what life is like here. It is hard to imagine, in safe western cities, what it’s like to have nights and days interrupted by sirens and explosions, the sounds of cruise missiles and air defence going off overhead. And how people have the strength and determination to get up in the morning and carry on - and pitching in to help others who are in an even worse situation. It is both unimaginable and inspirational - and they deserve to have their stories more widely known.
Insider food guides
Also, because my other hat is as a London based food writer and 'influencer' I can share with you my insider food lists and any new places I hear about or get to visit.
FOUNDING MEMBERS £100
For those who want or are able to support us a little more then you might want to become a founding member. At the moment I have no idea exactly what I can give you beyond my complete gratitude, (maybe cake if you’re nearby!) or a small gift from Ukraine - but you might want to know that £100 will go towards vital things like flour, fuel, rental costs and salaries - and each £100 means our bakers can provide people with another 100 loaves of bread
I’m so delighted that you found yourself here and are able to come along on this journey with me. Should you know anyone else who would want to come along too, please do spread the word.