Patrick and Krista Gramens’ Rye Berry Bakery & Cafe is one of 87 praiseworthy bakeries included in our directory of Craft Bakeries. These bakeries offer baked goods and naturally leavened breads, made from scratch and hand-crafted, with the mindful sourcing of ingredients often including local grains and fruits, and are a positive economic presence for communities (with dollars spent and kept local).
Our bakery directory now includes listings from Alaska to Wyoming in the U.S. as well as a half dozen in Canada and one in England. When travel once again becomes doable, it’s especially handy.
The Rye Berry, located in the village of Hamilton (Madison County) in upstate New York (population, 4,000) is also the home of Colgate University. Colgate is the largest economic influence in the village: Hamilton’s population is just slightly larger than the size of Colgate’s student body, and approximately 85 percent of the university’s faculty members live within 10 minutes of campus according to information on Wikipedia.
During the pandemic, Colgate University has been exemplary in developing protocols called Gates of Reopening, reflective of phased re-openings, with greater social interactions and mobility available as health and safety indicators show such moves to be prudent. After successfully graduating from In-Residence Quarantine or Gate Zero, Colgate President Brian W. Casey, who had quarantined in a college dormitory room like the Colgate students, was interviewed by Poppy Harlow on CNN, an interview that brought the college national attention for the way it has attempted to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
Fortunately, Colgate has managed to contain the spread of the virus as of late September. Earlier this week in a Colgate Together Daily Update (9/28/20), it was announced, with gratitude by Laura Jack, Vice President for Communications, that the Colgate Community had arrived at Gate 2, Moderate Restrictions (having begun the semester at Gate Zero, In-Residence Quarantine with the goal of hopefully reaching down the road Gate 3, Light Restrictions ). In Gate 2 which currently governs the Colgate community, groups of 10 or fewer may “visit the village” (but individuals must wear masks and maintain social distancing).
At the start of the fall semester, an informative article in the Colgate Maroon-News (the oldest college weekly in America), Hamilton Businesses Adapt to Influx of Students (9/4/20), by Kirby Goodman noted caution and anxiety on the part of business owners in the college town over the potential for community spread of COVID-19. One business owner who is a Colgate alumna noted wariness about students returning to campus “with so many people coming back to the village from many different regions of the country.” Nonetheless and somewhat surprisingly to some, it is fair to say that although anxiety and challenges certainly remain, economic life in this small upstate NY college town is showing some renewal.
Notably, the Hamilton Partnership for Community Development (PCD) has played a significant role in helping Hamilton businesses during the pandemic. Twenty years ago, Colgate University funded much of the start-up expenses of this community development corporation, and the benefits of the cooperative relationship between college and local government and businesses is evidenced with steps taken by the PCD to endure the challenges of the pandemic. In particular, PCD has partnered with a food delivery venture led by three Colgate juniors (Nick Gerlach, majoring in Economics; Adrienne Vaughn, majoring in Molecular Biology; Ebrahim Almansob, majoring in Economics) called ‘Gate Grubs, whose mission is to limit the spread of COVID-19 across campus and is dedicated to keeping local businesses alive and well during this pandemic. Impressive!
‘Gate Grubs offers contactless delivery twice a day for lunch and dinner from nine local restaurants and food businesses to the Colgate community. Although, The Rye Berry is not currently participating in this delivery service, it does offer take-out (and curbside pickup) from its appealing breakfast and lunch menus. With Colgate students now able to visit the Hamilton village, the bakery/café should see an increase in its take-out business.
The Rye Berry has also continued to maintain a presence in a bright orange tent on Saturdays from May to October 31st at the Hamilton Farmers Market on the Village Green from 8:00AM-1:00PM. The farmers market has adopted safety guidelines including wearing a face mask, a limit of one family member per household to reduce crowding, and a recommendation to contact vendors in advance to pre-order and pre-pay if possible.
And most distinctive, The Rye Berry is offering a Weekly Bread Delivery Subscription with bread delivered by 3:00PM to a customer’s door. One loaf per week for 12 weeks is very fairly priced, given the quality of ingredients, care in preparation and freshness, at $78, with two loaves per week for 12 weeks priced at $135. A remarkable variety of breads are offered. In addition, customers have the option of add-ons to their bread subscription including house-made yogurt, granola, whole bean or ground coffee and soups.
(Frank W. Barrie, 10/2/20)