clear flour bread feed brooklineWhen I recently spoke with Abe Faber about his small business—Brookline’s Clear Flour Bread—and its involvement in the community, his first comments echoed what I have heard from other local merchants participating in the Feed Brookline Drive.

He told me that participating in the Drive was “a no-brainer,” as it’s a way to help people in need locally. Referring to the Drive’s collection container hosted at Clear Flour, “It’s the only thing I’ve ever put on the counter of the bakery [to collect money],” citing the bakery’s size (a modest storefront, with visible baking area in the back) and the fact that it’s hard to ask for additional money, even for a cause, when you go to a store to make a purchase.

All told, though, Clear Flour’s customers have contributed generously. The bakery has collected approximately $550 for the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry.

Clear Flour is actually a co-ownership between Abe Faber and his wife, Christy Timon, the latter started the venture in 1982, when Clear Flour was, as he put it, “a one woman show.” She took care of all aspects of the business, from baking to bookkeeping.

breadAt the time of the store’s opening, Faber was a friend, working hectic hours alongside Timon, until they married seven years later on Thanksgiving Day. They chose the day because it and Christmas Day were the only days the bakery closed. The couple continued putting in 16-hour days until 1995, when their kids came into the picture. Faber tells me they, for the most part, divide the work in the store, with Timon heading up the baking while he fixes things and assists customers.

As Faber tells me, the 30-year-old bakery was never designed “to become a franchise or take over the world.” It’s purpose is simply to make quality baked goods. This, in part, is done by avoiding any shortcuts and baking by traditional methods, all while striving to be a breadmaker in the old-fashioned, old-world sense.

In their bread emporium, Timon and Faber indeed have bread from the old world—from France, Italy and Germany, in particular, as I saw on a recent trip to Clear Flour. Four varieties of Italian rustic bread lined the high shelf to the right of the counter; loaves of challah, a Friday special, adorned a low shelf behind the counter, with a version shaped like a turtle next to the more traditional shape; organic Vollkornbrot, a German rye, high up behind the counter beside two types of French baguettes—standard and ancienne (a darker bread, with a “fully caramelized crust,” according to the bakery’s web site, and with pointed ends, such as one findsregularly in a French boulangerie).

Other items available and on display included packaged granola, Equal Exchange and George Howell Coffee Company whole bean packs as well as a small freezer with fresh pasta, sauces and apple streusel.

When I asked about Clear Flour’s commitment to local charities, Faber answered by reading from a list of names of a somewhat-staggering 100 or so causes that the bakery supports annually. He said they “try to spread the money, bread and effort around,” with an emphasis on supporting local charities and causes represented by long-term Clear Flour customers. In addition, bread is donated to homeless shelters and provided at area events.

Finally, returning to the beginning of our talk, Faber said the “nice thing about the Feed Brookline Drive was knowing that Harvey [Bravman, Publisher], Catie [Hayes, Editor] and” were pooling donations collected by numerous Brookline businesses and leading a “group effort.” The co-owner of the Clear Flour Bread mused that it’s sometimes “hard to feel like you’re making a difference,” when it comes to charitable giving, but added that that’s not the case with the Feed Brookline Drive.

By Andrew Palmacci