Friends of the Earth Malta (FoEM) have successfully raised the first €8,000 needed to help save the historic bakery on the island of Comino. The campaign, which is being hosted on the crowdfunding platform Zaar, aims to raise €30,000 in total by the end of April. The environmental organisation has plans to turn it into an interpretation centre for the island, which is completely self-sustaining and a not-for-profit space for environmental education, workshops and nature walks.
The idea was initiated by the organisation’s director, Martin Galea De Giovanni who came across the old bakery during a camping trip on the island in the mid-90s. Martin recognised the building’s historic value and realised that it was the ideal space to turn into a hub for green education which respects the island’s status as a Natura2000 site.
A month into the campaign, Martin explains, ‘We’re so pleased to find the support from the general public and local businesses to help get this project started. Over the past 38 years as an organisation, we’ve learned that the community lies at the heart of everything we do. And, rooted in the bakery’s history is a strong tie with the local farming community who used to live on Comino.’
Maria Eileen Fsadni the organisation’s communications coordinator adds that, ‘It was important for us to offer the opportunity for the community to be involved in the restoration of the historic site from the very beginning, and we believe that crowdfunding for the renovation project will honour the story of the building.’
The building’s natural surrounding area of over 14,000m2, also falls under FoEM’s responsibility and will remain entirely untouched. The building itself has some incredible traditional features, including limestone arches, wooden beams and the bakery’s historic oven – which is one of very few still remaining – is still intact. Unfortunately, the organisation shared that the rest of the building has suffered from decades of neglect. Ceilings have caved in, windows and doors are missing, and it has suffered acts of vandalism.
Plans for the dilapidated building, which already have Planning Authority approval, will see the historic site restored to its former glory, using original material from the collapsed sections wherever possible and other second-hand materials to keep the impact as low as possible.
The organisation is also interested in learning more about the bakery’s history. Maria tells us, ‘We’ve also been in touch with a number of people who have memories of the bakery and the small population who enjoyed Comino during the 20th century.’
Michelangelo Galea, FoEM’s head custodian, eagerly concludes by saying ‘during this experience we’ve also begun researching the building through archival material and by making contact with prominent historians. We encourage members of the public to reach out to us with any information they may have about the building.’
With the help of €30,000, Friends of the Earth Malta will tackle only the basics. They plan to secure the site with windows, doors and basic security in order to prevent further vandalism, install essential facilities, including a simple bathroom and supply some areas of the building with electricity.
The first two goals will allow them to turn the old bakery into a community centre equipped with basic hosting facilities, space for informal workshops and a space to immerse in nature. Finally, if they meet the first two targets they would like to responsibly clear the site from the gathering rubble, and rubbish left behind by passers-by.
These three things will help Friends of the Earth Malta gain more financial independence moving forward to be able to complete the restoration works with more ease. More importantly, after several decades of neglect the building will once again be enjoyed by the community.
To donate, learn more about the project or share the story please click the following link: http://www.foemalta.org/cominozaar If you have any trouble donating, have any relevant memories of Comino, or have any questions kindly email email@example.com for further information.