Owners of a local bakery striving to make a difference in its community have been recognized with a special award.
On Sept. 29, during the Canadian Mennonite University’s annual Fall Festival, Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company was awarded the 2012 Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award.
The award aims to celebrate individuals from a variety of fields who emulate CMU’s vision — to inspire and equip people for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and in society.
Tall Grass opened in 1990 with a simple vision: to bring a community-based, environmentally sustainable, organic bakery to Winnipeg. It now operates its flagship store at 859 Westminster Ave. as well as a bakery, retail outlet and catering company at The Forks Market.
Tabitha Langel, who owns the bakery with her husband Paul and Lyle and Kathy Barkman said winning the community service award from CMU was "life-affirming."
Langel said the bakery wanted to bring together a circle of farmers, bakers, customers, and everyone else involved in the process, and pay due to everyone in that circle.
"We started this business out of a spiritual conviction and our goal was to support the farm community — to pay everyone involved in the service fairly, and to make a difference in our community that way," Langel said.
"We don’t go around talking about what we do, because we don’t like to brag, but to have someone notice what we’re doing, especially someone with CMU’s reputation and integrity, is wonderful."
Almost 23 years after it opened, Tall Grass still stands strongly behind its vision. It mills its own local, organic flour, and makes every effort to source all of its food locally, within the province.
Aside from bread-making, the owners work together with a philosophy of reconciliation, which Langel says keeps the business running smoothly.
"We had a conflict plan probably before we had a solid business plan," she said.
All owners of the bakery study conflict and mediation, and aim to empower themselves and their staff. If any of the owners do conflict with one another, they immediately head to a mediator.
"It’s part of doing business — learning peace," Langel said.
"When our staff sees us working in peace, it’s easier for them to respect (each other) and be honest when they run into problems."
CMU employee Eleonore Braun, chair of the award’s selection committee, said Tall Grass was chosen for the award because of its vision and philosophy.
"They’re doing things that are distinguished and are standing out. The award is recognizing the work they’re doing and saying it’s something worth...celebrating. We’re really excited for them," she said.