The project hopes to conserve Comino’s natural and cultural heritage by restoring the historic building for the benefit of the community.
Friends of the Earth Malta has launched a major crowdfunding campaign on Zaar to turn an old bakery on Comino into a hub of sustainability.
Part of the Erasmus+ project INCrowd (Inclusion through Crowdfunding), the Restawr tal-Forn ta’ Kemmuna campaign aims to save and restore an old building in Comino that was once a bakery and a centre for the local farming community.
The crowdfunding campaign, launched earlier this month on local platform Zaar, hopes to raise €30,000 towards the project by the end of March. Its first goal of €16,500 will cover security costs such as windows, doors and cameras to protect the historic building – and its original features – from looters and thieves. A further €11,000 raised will cover the installation of essential facilities including electricity and a visitor bathroom. The total funding goal’s final €2,500 will address the site’s desperate need for a clean-up to make the area safer for local wildlife and allow local flora to regenerate, with the team disposing of any waste responsibly.
Once these initial costs have been covered via crowdfunding, the next stage of the project can begin. While Friends of the Earth Malta signed a guardianship deed in 2021 that made it responsible for the 14,400 square metre plot of land in Comino, the organisation had already gained planning permission on the publicly owned building in 2016 to renovate it into a non-profit community centre. This community space will make the project more financially sustainable in the long-term, with hosting facilities, space for informal workshops, room for nature walks and, once again, a functioning oven.
“This is, of course, just the start,” says Friends of the Earth Malta director Martin Galea De Giovanni, who stumbled upon the bakery while camping around 30 years ago and has long held the dream to restore it to its former glory for the public’s enjoyment. “The building has quite the footprint, so it will take a few years to find its final form: a completely self-sustaining environmental utopia, with solar panels, rainwater collection facilities, a veggie garden, rooms for overnight stays – the whole works. Comino is begging for a hub of sustainability such as this that complements its natural beauty and cultural heritage, which educates the public about why it’s worthy of protection.”
Since the project is for the community by the community, crowdfunding was an obvious choice, he highlights. “Over the past 38 years we’ve learnt that the community lies at the heart of everything we do. And, rooted in the bakery’s history is a strong tie with the community. We believe that crowdfunding for the renovation project will honour the story of the building and offer the opportunity for the community to become involved in its new life from the very beginning.”
While Friends of the Earth Malta teammates Maria Eileen Fsadni and Michelangelo Galea join Martin in the initiative, the project has already received support from TAPP Water Malta, Coregreen Organic + Fairtrade and Frank Wrap.
And although backers on the Zaar campaign can feel the satisfaction of helping to restore and preserve a precious piece of local heritage for future generations, they can also expect a range of rewards, bundled according to the amount donated. These include project updates, pens, the Agro Katina guide to seasonal vegetables and fruit, a one-time 10% discount from Coregreen Organic + Fair Trade, a one-time 20% discount from Frank Wrap, a foraging guide, an invitation to a thank-you dinner or end-of-year drinks with Friends of the Earth Malta, a foraging walk in Malta, a day-trip to Comino, an informational nature walk in Comino or a mention by name on the website (with consent).
Corporate sponsors who share the same core values as Friends of the Earth Malta can also benefit from a range of partnership rewards packages.
To find out more about the Restoration of the Comino Bakery – Restawr tal-Forn ta’ Kemmuna campaign on Zaar and to donate towards this worthy cause, visit www.zaar.com.mt.