Holly Harman Fackler

Holly Harman Fackler's bread-baking enterprise helps daughter Libby offset some of her tuition expenses.


In-Home Bread-Baking Operation Puts Food on the Table, Money in the Bank

Mother helps daughter offset tuition with modest production of delicious sourdough bread

October 27, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Holly Harman Fackler is not a financial planner, but she has come up with a way to add some spending money to the family budget and help daughter Libby — a senior at The College of Wooster — meet some tuition expenses.

An online editor for Media Network of Central Ohio by day, Fackler has become a prolific baker on weekends, producing as many as 40 loaves from her home in Shelby to sell at nearby farmers markets.

Using simple sourdough recipes, Fackler turns out a delicious variety of breads, including pizza, roasted garlic, and cinnamon, that sell for between $3 and $6 a loaf and can bring in a total of $100 or more at the market.

“It’s not really a business; it’s more like a hobby,” says Fackler, whose 4-H background has served her well in this new endeavor, “but it does allow me to help with Libby’s tuition and other family expenses without putting the rest of my life on hold.”

In fact, the experience has enriched her life. “I have gained so much by participating in this part of the local food chain,” she says, “and I really enjoy the social interaction that takes place at the market.”

Fackler’s modest enterprise began a little over a year ago when she invested in a few pans and some high-quality ingredients that she believed would ensure a desirable product. Her middle child, Evan, got her going on sourdough when he brought a starter kit home from California at Christmas in 2010 and suggested she give it a try. Still, she wasn’t sure about selling the product until a friend, Barbara (Groff) Sponseller Watkins, provided some encouragement. “I gave her a couple of loaves, and she wrote me a nice note that said she hadn’t had such good bread since Paris,” Fackler says.

With an oven in the kitchen and another in the basement, Fackler spends most of the 24 hours before a market preparing and baking the bread. Her husband, Jack, a self-described “dough boy” and “pan man,” often helps mix dough, wash pans, and load market gear into the family vehicle. Most weekends, the destination is the Shelby Farmers Market, just a mile from their home. She often sells out.

Recently, Fackler accepted an invitation to share her skill with Libby and several of her fellow students at Wooster. She traveled to campus with a 50-pound bag of artisan flour and ripe, airy leaven, hoping to inspire adventures in sourdough by another generation. About eight students dropped in during the evening-long demonstration. “It will be interesting to see if any of them follow up and bake bread,” Fackler says.

Actually, Libby is already making some bread of her own — in both a food and financial sense. Early attempts have turned out fine. And she continues to reap the benefits of what her mother bakes by applying some of the proceeds to her tuition bill.

“My mom is my hero,” says Libby. “I know that at the very least I will always have bread, and that’s no small thing.”