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Potsdam Food Co-op’s Bake Fest raises money for Neighborhood Center

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POTSDAM — There was a sugar rush at the Potsdam Food Co-op’s Carriage House Bakery from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, during its 16th annual Holiday Baking Fest and Silent Auction.

Baked goods were divided into four delicious categories: cookies, desserts, special diet treats and savory, non-sweet goods.

The volunteers who signed up to do the baking had to make two of whatever dish they decided to enter, one for people to sample and one to auction off.

Each year, the money raised is donated to the Potsdam Neighborhood Center. Last year it made $907, according to Co-op Director Eric D. Jesner.

“This year, I’d love to raise over $1,000,” he said.

And that’s just what he did. The final count for this year’s fundraiser was $1,043.

Mr. Jesner said the bake-off grows each year. This year it had 30 baking entries, up from last year’s 24.

The sampling options change each year as well, Mr. Jesner said.

“The Food Co-op has baked none of this. These are all people who have just signed up,” he said. “No one makes the same thing twice.”

Daisy J. Cox, director of the Potsdam Neighborhood Center, said the center usually spends the money raised each year on seed vouchers, enabling people to grow their own food.

“We encourage bucket gardens, indoor gardens and outdoor gardening,” she said.

“We’re both very community-minded organizations, so for us, part of it is just getting the community together and to spend time with one another,” Mr. Jesner said. “And the other side of it is the importance of, as a co-op, to give back to the community that we’re in, and what better thing for a food co-op to do than to help give food to people who can’t afford enough for themselves.”

Laura J. Cordts, Hannawa Falls, and Dr. Sandra A. McCloy, Potsdam, both were dressed festively while helping serve samples at the bakery Sunday.

Ms. Cordts said she is a new board member for the Food Co-op; it was her first time helping out with the Bake Fest.

“We have a bunch of talented bakers and they’re very generous because, besides all the samples, they make a second of each item that people can bid on,” she said. “It’s fun and it’s delicious.”

Dr. McCloy used to be on the board of directors for the Food Co-op. She helps out with the Baking Fest every year and she shops in the store “constantly.”

“People love to bake at Christmas,” she said. “This is a benefit for the neighborhood center, and I think a lot of people feel that it gives them a chance to bake and sell their baked goods for a good cause.”

People sampling the goodies were able to vote for winners in each category. The winners each received a $25 gift card to the Food Co-op.

Charles Machabee, Brushton, won the dessert category with a “Danish kringle.”

Two young Russell sisters, Nora and Franny Olsen, won the cookie category with “peppermint patties.”

A gluten-free recipe, a “flourless chocolate torte” made by Susan Powers, Potsdam, and her daughter, Ellie, took the win for the special diet category.

And Bochra Morad, Potsdam, won the savory, non-sweet category with a dish called “banista.”

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