One of the originators of Nature's Bakery was Gini Lopez, who baked bread at home for sale at Whole Earth and around Madison. In September, 1970, she and two other women rented 1101 Williamson Street and founded Nature's Own Bakery. The women began baking in a large oven donated by Edgewood College and Whole Earth, and the bakery became certified thanks in part to donations from the Sunflower Kitchen and Mifflin Street Co-op.
Nature's Bakery continued to thrive through the 1970's, adding a variety of specialized bakers to the roster, establishing regular delivery routes, and selling products at the Farmer's Market downtown (itself established in May, 1972). The business changed to a partnership in 1974, and in 1975 was incorporated as Nature's Bakery, Ltd. The bakery's current facility at 1019 Williamson Street was purchased about this time.
Uprisings, still in print today, which features several Nature's Bakery original recipes. While the early 1980s saw the end of a number of Madison co-ops, Nature's went through a period of positive change: refining and specializing management areas among members; updating methods of keeping business records; and increasing the efficiency of shifts and scheduling; and enabling members to financially invest in the bakery. Essene bread and vegetarian burgers were added to the bakery's product offerings. Eventually, Nature's was re-incorporated in its present form as a workers' cooperative.
The 1990s saw Nature's updating equipment and our space at 1019 Williamson Street, and planning for the bakery's long-term economic health. Now, in 2010, we are proud to be celebrating our 40th year in business, and look forward to serving the Williamson Street and greater Madison and Midwest communities for many years to come.
(Compiled by E. Ranney, from sources by Dan Durica and Steve Rooney; original photographs from the archives of the Wisconsin State Historical Society)
Nature's Bakery is featured on the historical mural found on the corner of Williamson St. and Few St. It highlights Nature's Bakery as a beacon of the food movement and alternative businesses in the 1970s.