TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In the crisp early morning, the smell of freshly baked bread cuts through the air at Barrio Bread. Owner Don Guerra arrives at his shop early, mixing the flour and water by four a.m.
“In a typical day, my day starts at 4 a.m.,” he said. “I come with another person to help me mix the dough.”
He dusts flour on the loaves of bread, creating the Arizona state flag or a saguaro cactus on the tops of the loaves of bread. From cranberry walnut loaves to sourdough ciabatta, the bakery has it all.
By the early afternoon, the bakery is sold out.
"For me, it’s all about preserving my heritage and I also love to give everyone a taste bud experience," Guerra said. "They have a chance to come and taste a bread from their region.”
His bread is more than a mixture of flour and water. Each are a work of art that aim to build the local grain economy and spread culture throughout the community. The grain is economy, he said, is where the grain is grown locally, close to the ovens that the grain will bake in.
"I want my customers to know that it’s more than just buying a loaf of bread, they’re supporting local grain economy," he said. "This is what I’m trying to do in southern Arizona is to develop a local grain economy that is sustainable and will live far into the future with or without me."
The bread is made with White Sonoran Wheat, a grain that Guerra has helped revive. He traced the grain back to its roots — the Sonoran Desert.
"My ancestors were making tortillas with that grain back, you know in the 1690s when father Kino brought the grain," he said.
After teaching in the Tucson Unified School District, Guerra decided to move back to baking. So, in 2009, he started Barrio Bread in his garage. Guerra's baking has led him to win numerous awards and recognition around the country.
“I love teaching and I’m continuing to be an educator," he said "Now I'm a breaducator."
In addition to his bakery, he teaches bread making lessons online.
"It's about spreading information," Guerra said. "I love what I do here but these are not secrets. I love as an educuator to give that knowledge to other people."
He's received a couple of grants from the United States Department of Agriculture to help increase collaboration with others and expand the bakery.
"I just want to do all that I can to build bigger tables rather than bigger walls," he said.
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