Restoration of the Comino Bakery – Restawr tal-Forn ta’ Kemmuna

Let's conserve Comino’s natural and cultural heritage. Help us turn the old bakery into a hub of sustainability.

Friends of the Earth Malta Community March 3, 2023 at 9:14 am
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Project Description

Hello there!

It’s Martin, Maria and Michelangelo from Friends of the Earth Malta and we’ve got a story to share…

Sometime during the 90s Martin stumbled upon il-forn (an old bakery) while enjoying a camping trip with some friends in Comino. Ever the dreamer, he concocted a vision to one day turn it into an interpretation centre for the island, creating room for education about sustainability and a not-for-profit space for retreats which would be completely self-sustaining …with a functioning oven again!

Fast forward 30-odd years and the island is begging for a hub of sustainability which complements its natural beauty, its cultural heritage and educates the general public about why it’s worthy of protection.

Wait a minute… There’s a Bakery on Comino?

Yes, your eyes didn’t deceive you! There is indeed a bakery on the tiny island of Comino… and no it doesn’t have anything to do with those pesky pineapple vendors. It long predates the neon food trucks, boasting of lovely limestone walls, the original oven and it’s surrounded, well, by undisturbed nature!

Sadly, the building, which was once a centre for the local farming community to gather over food, has fallen into disrepair. It hasn’t been used as a bakery for several decades which means that it has succumbed to the elements, looters and is almost in ruins. If something is not done immediately the beautiful building is unfortunately at risk of being totally lost.

That’s why we’re doing something about it!

We’d like to start with the basics, security, essential facilities and responsibly clearing the site. These three things will help us make the project more financially sustainable in the long term by turning it into a non-profit community centre, with basic hosting facilities, space for informal workshops and room for nature walks. Let’s explain how…

Our first goal is, 16,500 euros which will help us obtain security 

Being that the building has fallen into disuse over the years, it’s invited the prying eyes of looters who perhaps needed that extra shutter for their home or an additional xriek (stone) to complete their roof and thought it ok to steal the original features found at the bakery. With nothing to deter this looting, much has been lost, and much is left to be lost.

We’d like to put in windows, doors and put up some basic cameras to catch the culture-thieves in action! This sort of necessary security means that we can also start to store tools, materials and other things we may need to continue the renovations without the threat of it being stolen.

The second objective is to raise another 11,000 euros to install essential facilities

To effectively host people here, we need a basic bathroom. This will ensure that visitors can enjoy their stay comfortably, without disturbing its natural surroundings. Of course, we’ll source most of the fittings and fixtures second hand to respect the cultural nuance of the building… but it will cost a pretty penny to haul everything up to Comino.

We’d also like to equip a few areas with some electricity which will allow us to continue the project with more ease moving forward.

Finally, if we hit 27,500 we’d like to raise an extra 2,500 euros to Responsibly Clear the Site

Believe it or not, although it’s a 20 minute walk away from the infamous blue lagoon, we found pineapples and straws here… the site is in desperate need of a proper clearing up and we’d like to do it correctly by carting over any waste to the mainland and disposing of it responsibly. This will make the area safer for the local wildlife and allow the local flora to regenerate.

This is of course just the start. Martin’s dream is a long-term project, 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.

But, with your help we’ll finally kick off a 30-year-long dream to conserve Comino’s natural and cultural heritage for the enjoyment of the general public. 

Want to get into the nitty gritty of the project? Check out the FAQ section for more specific details.

If you can’t donate today, please do share the story with a friend!

Now that you’ve read the story… let’s introduce ourselves!

Martin Galea De Giovanni can only be described as the brains behind the project. As illustrated above, he stumbled upon the bakery while camping around 30 years ago.

His involvement in Friends of the Earth Malta (FoEM) came in 2001, when he joined as a volunteer and eventually became the organisation’s director in 2015. Here he finally found a platform for his dream, and with his perseverance the project of Comino has slowly inched forward.

Maria Eileen Fsadni might be more familiar to you as our communications coordinator but she is actually an art historian by training and is in love with Malta’s rich cultural heritage. In fact, she’s worked in some of Malta’s leading museums and heritage NGOs over the past 8 years, and has gained lots of experience in cultural interpretation.

When Maria’s not roaming the halls of a museum, she’s probably rummaging through a flea market to snag some of your Nanna’s old knick-knacks. She has a love for all things beautiful, and enjoys interior designing with sustainability in mind during her spare time.

Michelangelo Galea is a jack of all trades and a master of some. You may recognise him from our community garden, but in truth his skills are endless… from fixing the blinds in our office to tiling a floor he does it all! He’s become our go-to handyman at the green resource centre.

And, he’s got a wealth of experience managing renovation and building projects. He also comes equipped with the patience (and the know-how) to deal with all the tradespeople. In the run up to this campaign, he’s been busy collecting quotes from carpenters, and plumbers. Those of you who have done up a property can absolutely relate, Michelangelo is essential to the team.

We would like to thank a few people for their support so far!

TAPP Water Malta
Coregreen Oganic + Fairtrade
Frank Wrap

This campaign is part of the Erasmus+ project INCrowd.

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