Circles Initiative

SCCAP staff getting ready to help other communities start their own Circles Initiative

Friendship bread starter

Okay, it may not look delicious yet, but give it 10 days and it will be.  

The South Central Community Action Program’s Todd Lare, Linda Patton and Bonnie Vesely made the bread starter for Amish friendship bread last week. They’re making the bread –  it takes 10 days to prepare – to get ready for a conference they’ll be attending next week.

At that conference on Nov. 9-12 in Phoenix, they’ll be participating in a “train the trainer” process to help them get ready to be part of an upcoming Circles training center in Indiana. That center will help c0mmunities in Indiana who want to join the national Circles Campaign and start their own local Circles initiative.   

They chose to take friendship bread to the conference because this bread got its name from the ritual of sharing the bread starter with others. In that way, it’s like Circles, in which participants befriend one another to share their experiences and knowledge to help and enrich each others’ lives.

Here’s some information about the sharing of friendship bread starter from  When the starter is passed on, a recipe and instructions are given with it. The mixture sits on the counter for seventy-two hours, until it becomes a fermented starter. Then, according to a carefully prescribed ritual, the starter is fed and stirred daily. The stirring must be done with a wooden spoon, for 10 more days. If it is not carefully natured, the starter will die.

But then if it lives, the resulting mass must be divided. One portion goes into a quick bread batter, another is kept and the two remaining portions are given to friends, thus the name – friendship bread. Folks too greedy to share have found that the starter spreads to gigantic proportions, soon over-running the kitchen. After experiencing this disaster, most people are compelled to pass it on.

Anthropologists say people like to share things they have invested their time in. It is the notion of giving something of yourself. Although this friendship bread starter is a frugal gift, it is homemade and it produces a mouth-watering bread with a distinctive taste that can only be achieved with the starter.


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