Bread, beer and bees at United Seminary this summer

United Seminary hopes to build a bread oven similar to this model this summer. (submitted photo)

United Seminary's director of physical plant Brandon Krosch looks on as the finishing touches are applied to the future bread oven's foundation. (Mike Munzenrider/Bulletin)

United Theological Seminary in New Brighton laid the concrete foundation for a community bread oven May 19, and even though it rained, they still poured.

The bread oven, which will be wood fired and made of brick, is being created at the behest of Dr. Barbara Holmes, president of the seminary, inspired by a similar oven at a church in White Bear Lake.
“We’re becoming more community oriented,” Holmes said. “Bread is central to communities--baking bread, breaking bread and otherwise--sharing is very central in a lot of different places and the seminary wants to bring people together in this way.”
Holmes explained that United is making a renewed push with eclectic and ecumenical programming throughout the year.

Brandon Krosch, the seminary’s director of physical plant, helped edge the concrete foundation in the rain and explained that the bread oven is a part of a number of community initiatives that the seminary has planned for the summer.

The oven should be ready for baking near summer’s end, its construction a community building event in a couple ways, as volunteers can lay bricks and learn more about the process, as well as meet new people, Krosch said.

Beyond the bread oven project, this will be the first year the seminary has urban farmed; with the help of Robin Raudabaugh from Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm, it currently has two raised gardening beds and plans to build six more, as spring rains allow. Krosch said the seminary will plant “basic things” like tomatoes and potatoes, which will be used or donated, as necessary, as well as hops, which will be used for on-campus beer brewing, on which the seminary teaches a class.

This will also be United’s third year of bee-keeping. Krosch, a third generation bee-keeper himself, keeps five hives that house some 80,000 bees each, the seminary’s entire bee count coming in at just under a quarter-million bees.

Krosch harvests honey from the hives each fall and ahead of the harvests holds August bee-keeping classes. The bounty is sold on campus as “Holy Honey.”

With its future bread baking, bee-keeping and beer brewing, Krosch said United is “like monks” of yesteryear, who traditionally practiced the same activities.

There will be a meeting to discuss the oven and its construction June 4 from 7-8 p.m. at United Seminary near the McMillan Center.

For more information on the community bread oven, beer brewing or bee-keeping classes, go to or call 651-255-6170.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.


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