Sawyer Poland delivers his food pantry donation to Agnes Gray Elementary Principal Beth Clarke. Supplied photo

WEST PARIS — As part of SAD 17’s remote learning unit History in the Hills, Sawyer Poland decided to bake bread.

“It was part of a project called ‘Community Helpers,’” the 10-year-old explained. “I had baked it once with my grammy. It’s a Finnish bread and she has friends who are Finnish.

“Nisu is a sweet bread made with cardamom. You split the dough into three sections and then you braid it. It is topped with icing, crushed cardamom seeds and cherries. My grammy posted pictures of it and people began ordering it.”

Some of the Finnish Nisu bread Sawyer Poland baked for a History in the Hills project. Supplied photo

Starting in early May, the fourth-grader and his grandmother Sandra Poland made 15 loaves, which he sold for $10 each. More people wanted the bread so he made a second batch of 10 loaves. His sales for the first two batches hit $243, which he planned to donate to the Agnes Gray Elementary Food Pantry. After a matching donation from his mother Veronica Poland’s ice cream shop in South Paris, the Inside Scoop, the younger Poland was able to donate $486 to fight food insecurity.

But despite summer vacation, demand for Poland’s baking did not stop. By June he had 10 more orders and was able to donate another $136 to the food pantry. And his project has continued into the summer – he and his grandmother still have to bake another 10 loaves.

“People have been extremely generous with their donations and support,” said Sandra Poland. “We’ll make more bread for one more week.”

This is the first community support project that Sawyer Poland has participated and he is glad he has been able to help the food pantry buy more food.

“It’s good to help the community,” he said. “Especially during hard times like this, with COVID-19.”

Sawyer Poland puts the finishing touches on Nisu bread he has baked. Supplied photo

After the next round of baking wraps up Poland will finally be able to focus on his school vacation. He is playing on two baseball teams, majors which has games Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the South Paris Mountaineers, a travel team where he plays four games over the weekend. While the Mountaineers usually travels as far away as Massachusetts, this summer the team is playing much closer to home.

Poland also needs to take a break from Nisu bread baking so he can find the time for his other summer activities, like going to the skateboard park, fishing and dirt bike riding.

“I am a pretty sportsy kid,” he said. “And I like getting out in nature too.”

In addition to sports, Poland also works with his mom at the Inside Scoop, helping in the shop and sometimes running the cash register. And he has one other distance learning project he is participating over the summer: the students in his class are each making a quilt square that will be added to a large quilt sheet to display at the school. His square is of a bear paw.

“I was walking with my grandpa in the woods and I saw a bear paw track and I decided that would be my quilt square,” he said.

While Poland liked baking the Nisu bread and helping his community, the best part was the bread itself.

“I could eat more than two loaves in an hour by myself,” he said.

 


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