Boys, bands and bread. Carter Were speaks in a way that is quietly open, no filter or facade. She is the founder of Carter’s Organic Sprouted Bread: an all organic, handmade loaf of sprouted buckwheat, coconut oil, linseed and sea salt. The authentic, simple nature of her product translates in her personality—there is a rawness to Carter which is the antithesis of trying, and it’s impossible to capture or clone, like most good things.
“It’s not that I don’t like my bread, it’s more that real bread is my favorite food. Which is why I tried to make sourdough this weekend. It still has sprouted grains and seeds, but I’ve made a starter which gives it that sour taste. I started making my sprouted bread while working in a Sydney bakery, after moving there at 18 with a boy in a band. Later, I met another boy who worked at an organic shop owned by this crazy health freak. We’d get 90% off everything so we always had heaps of health food. We ate pretty much entirely alkaline and got quite into it. I did feel really good at the time but you couldn’t go out for dinner anywhere and it became quite socially restrictive. Now I eat everything with small amounts of organic meat and dairy—I’m much more relaxed about food.
After 2 years of trialling bread recipes in Sydney I had a loaf that I was happy with. When I came back to New Zealand I started working at Little Bird, helping with production. There was 5 of us then, now there’s over 50. I started off making my bread for the staff, and it’s been part of the menu since the cafe opened.
People started asking for whole loaves, so I decided to create a business from it and learn a few things.
It’s great for people with allergies to gluten, and because I sprout the buckwheat it’s easy to digest. I couldn’t have done it without Little Bird, I love everyone I work with there. I based the logo off these antique bottles in my family which my dad collects. They’re from a Christchurch soft drink company my great-great-great -granddad started in the 1800s called Were Bros.
Now I bake on Wednesdays at 4 in the morning. My sister, Harry, helps me at the moment, but if she can’t, my brother Fergus does. Felix (Harry’s boyfriend) designed my packaging and website, and sometimes I borrow my flatmate’s car. I’m really grateful I have so many people that are willing to help. I make 70 to 80 loaves at a time at the moment, and that usually lasts the week. I work at Little Bird that day between baking, then 7 hours a day for them otherwise.
I’m going to Greece again for a few months, which is where I first became interested in food. I stay with a family over there whose extended family own an organic farm in a village by the sea. I think after Greece I want a break from the city.
My granddad has a kiwifruit orchard in the Coromandel, with a little shack on the river where rats live.
I’d like to turn it into somewhere I can go stay in the weekends, grow some veggies, teach myself some basics on living self-sufficiently. I just want to feel content with myself and what I am doing, and if I can do that through making something people love, I’ll feel pretty successful.”