By Pamela Dozois
Nestled behind a hedgerow of greenery in Los Olivos lies a little garden retreat known as The Bakery Farmstand where, one morning a week, those in the know can enjoy a little bit of sweet culinary heaven.
Passing drivers would barely notice it was there, except for a quaint little sign on the side of the road informing passersby when the farm stand is open.
Owners Tracy Fleming and Glenn Landon, a husband and wife team, opened the Bakery Farmstand in July 2013, offering an assortment of baked goods for sale such as muffins, scones, cakes, breads, quiche, homemade pop tarts, Bundt cakes, pies and tartlets, a variety of cookies, and their famous homemade marshmallows.
“We started with a little chalk board on the side of the road, which someone stole, and a little table with an umbrella in the driveway,” said Fleming. “Now we can accommodate larger groups of people to enjoy our garden and our baked goods, but by appointment only. We mainly do private parties, but we are open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, serving baked goods in our garden. ”
Fleming has been a part of the food industry from childhood. Her mother was a food stylist in the television industry and she had the opportunity to learn first-hand how to create unique and tasty occasions.
“My mother worked as a food stylist (previously known as a home economist, back in the day) for the Dinah Shore Show. I remember as a young teenager helping my mother cut vegetables while Burt Reynolds, who was dating Dinah Shore at the time, sat in a chair watching us prepare the food,” she recalled.
“I think my ability to look at the big picture came from my mother,” said Fleming. “She was very organized and I learned how to prepare meals for large groups of people.”
While living in Los Angeles, Fleming owned her own catering business called Serves You Right, eventually selling it to her partner. “We did a lot of really fun and imaginative parties for the music industry,” Fleming recalled.
“I decided to sell my business because I wanted to spend more time with my son. The catering business consumes a lot of weekends,” she said. “I needed a normal Monday-through-Friday job, so I went to work at the Nestle Test Kitchen in Glendale, where I remained for five years. My mother also worked there, but we were in different departments.
“I was looking to have my son attend Santa Barbara Junior High School, as it was a good time in our lives for a change of scenery,” she said. “I started a little cookie company, along with my mother, called ‘Ocean View Sweets,’ which featured marshmallow squares, truffle cookies and shortbread. The company exploded when an article about us was featured in Saveur Magazine, ranking us third out of 100 on their ‘Best List’ for 2000. We were selling our baked goods all over the country. Almost as fast as that happened, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.”
“After junior high, my son wanted to attend Dunn School, so we decided to move to Los Olivos,” said Fleming. “For years my husband and I had the idea of opening a bakery. But when negotiations for the purchase of one fell through, I went to work at UCSB as an executive chef for two different sororities, where I worked for almost five years.”
Fleming recalled the day her accountant mentioned something about the “California (Homemade) Food Act” that Governor Brown signed into law in 2012.
“Cooking and baking in a home for outside sales was illegal at the time. The Cottage Food Law allows people, within certain parameters, to cook food from their own home kitchen and sell it to stores and to the public. It also allows people to build a clientele before entering into a brick and mortar store. Most new restaurants and bakeries fail within the first year. But the Cottage Food Law offered me the opportunity to do my own baking, in my own kitchen, and sell it to the public. So we opened the Bakery Farmstand.”
Landon, who is a builder, created the little outpost in the garden, constructing the bakery stand, the tables and the pergolas, transforming the garden into a perfect spot for outdoor dining, a place where people can relax and enjoy themselves and savor excellent food.
“I only do small affairs, like pre-wedding dinners, or small get-togethers, by appointment only,” said Fleming. “We are open to the public on Saturday mornings. Glenn tends to be the face and Saturday morning leader, because I am often so busy in the kitchen replenishing the stand with our baked goods for the girls to sell to customers. I am eternally grateful to our employees for their kindness and great service to our customers. Glenn is a huge asset to the success of each Saturday morning that we are open. All I want to do is bake.”
“I do a lot of private parties and I also teach people how to prepare meals,” she continued. “For example I go to a person’s home who is having an intimate dinner for 6 people, let’s say. I demonstrate how the food is prepared and then I place the food on the table and quietly leave. I also teach both culinary and baking classes to small groups of people in my kitchen or privately. I also do a themed dinner in July and one in October.”
“Food is a universal language. You can go anywhere in the world and cook with people with no words necessary. Everyone needs to eat. A familial atmosphere is what is important to me. Our little business has grown so organically and beautifully over the past 6 years. It amazes me that I can do what I am doing at this point in my life. I have been cooking and baking for more than 40 years. I enjoy what I’m doing now even more than I loved working at all the wonderful positions I’ve held during my career,” Fleming said. “I now have a funky little stand in my garden and I love it.”
The Bakery Farmstand is on Santa Barbara Avenue near the corner of Olivet Avenue in Los Olivos. Look for the little wooden sign out front.
For more information, call 805-252-9866 or follow them on Instagram, @thebakeryfarmstand. People who sign up for their newsletter receive a weekly email with their menu, which changes weekly.