Sandy's AntFarm to acquire Harmony Baking Company in Estacada
Nearly 40 years ago, Linda Lawrence opened Harmony Baking Company, at 221 S.W. Wade St. in Estacada, with the mission of creating a place where anyone and everyone could come and be comfortable and eat good food.
In 2020, Lawrence's niece Jenny Beaudoin and her husband, Corey Lawrence, took over ownership of Harmony, with the goal of maintaining its place in the community.
"My aunt used to say: 'There's a space for everyone at our table,'" Beaudoin said.
Now, after just over two years, Beaudoin said she feels like "we did what we started out to do," and she's selling the bakery and cafe to neighbors AntFarm.
Beaudoin has helped out around the business intermittently since she was 14. Now at 41, she is looking to refocus on her career as a social worker and her husband plans to work more on his art outside of the kitchen.
"I want to honor everything my aunt did," Beaudoin said. "I'm really proud of it. We have other plans though. I feel like Harmony is ready for the next phase."
For Beaudoin, selling the cafe and bakery to AntFarm, a nonprofit organization founded in Sandy that has recently started operating community-serving programs in Estacada, was a natural choice. Last fall, AntFarm purchased property behind the cafe on Wade Street and partnered with Harmony to start a community garden on the land between the buildings.
The transition in ownership of the bakery is planned for Dec. 1, so by the time Beaudoin exits, she'll have operated the space for just under three years. As such, she said she feels like a "foster mom" for the business.
"Now I'm blessing it on to a forever home," she said.
It is uncertain whether the name of the business will remain the same, but Nunpa, executive director of AntFarm, said "we want to honor the tradition, the family."
"We're now talking about 'How do we do that best?'" he added.
There will be some rebranding to keep the soon-to-be AntFarm owned location consistent with the AntFarm Cafe & Bakery on Proctor Boulevard in Sandy.
"It's far more than just good food, it's relationships and connections," Nunpa said. "We want to create that space in relation to history."
Unlike when he opened his cafe in Sandy, "we're not starting from scratch," Nunpa said. So, he's looking forward to hitting the ground running when AntFarm takes ownership.
AntFarm's mission, outside of feeding people, is creating opportunities for youth as well as those who are underprivileged. In Sandy, and now in Estacada as well, AntFarm coordinates a community garden and offers a variety of services for youth. AntFarm's services include tutoring, youth workforce development, homeless youth support, addiction prevention, emergency management and support for senior citizens.
Estacada community members recently gathered to celebrate the opening of AntFarm's Zobrist Community Center. AntFarm staff will use the center to host classes, community meetings and more.
"I'm super excited," Nunpa told a Pamplin Media Group reporter that day. "Estacada deserves more support and connections, and we're here to help. When AntFarm opened in 2010 (in Sandy), we had Estacada kids there then."
Nunpa is hoping having a cafe and bakery in Estacada will create opportunities closer to home for youth, like there is for teens in Sandy.
"Youth internships in the cafe are already in my mind," Nunpa said.
"I've known about AntFarm for quite a while," Beaudoin said. "I've always been aware of the community service that they provide, and just knowing that we have such aligned values (is comforting). It's important to me that Harmony is in good hands and with the same values that I have. It would feel very irresponsible to let it go into the universe in any other way."
Beaudoin added that she's looking forward to taking to the sidelines and just being a "cheerleader" for Harmony.
"I want nothing but for this to be successful," she said.
While Harmony is a fairly popular spot for brunch and lunch in Estacada, Nunpa said the decision to purchase the business had less to do with the money and more to do with "the cause."
"I think about the youth in this town," he said. "People need this. We want to create that safe space for people to go."
Some things potentially staying the same at Harmony by AntFarm are some of the recipes used in the kitchen — Corey Lawrence is hard at work perfecting recipes to hand over — along with the hot meal voucher program. Nunpa said he appreciates that program so much, he plans to implement it at AntFarm in Sandy as well.
"It's about honoring the people here," Nunpa said. "The key in all of this is holding the values."
Besides values (and aside from Beaudoin and Lawrence) the staff at Harmony also will remain. And relationships with local farmers who provide produce for the cafe will be maintained.
"It is an incredible staff," Beaudoin said. "I could not be prouder. I think the community is just going to welcome this (transition) with open arms."
"I'm excited," Nunpa added.
The existing and new owners of Harmony plan to host an event to recognize the transition, but no date has been set.
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