August First Bakery

August First is a locally-owned Bakery/Café in downtown Burlington, Vermont.

We’re completely dedicated to having fun, baking amazingly delicious bread, making you feel warm and welcomed, and having you feel nurtured when you’re here.  We keep our menus simple in choice, but deep in flavor and character.  We create natural, healthy food from scratch every day that is absolutely delicious and makes you feel good after you eat it, not bogged down!

Our space is a big renovated garage in downtown Burlington, where it’s bright and warm in the winter, and breezy and open in the summer.  The open space lets you see the bakers in action, creating our European style breads and pastries.  Join us for breakfast and lunch!

The Story…

August First opened on August 1, 2009 by husband and wife team, Phil Merrick and Jodi Whalen.

Phil studied artisan bread baking in Southern California in the mid 90’s with Frederick Holmshaw, and then moved east to open Merrick’s Bread & Coffee in the tiny hamlet of Wadhams, NY.  There he baked  European style sourdough, baguettes, seven grain, and other specialty breads, roasted his own coffee, and made granola and morning pastries.

Jodi Whalen has lived in Burlington since 1992.  She brings a variety of experiences to the bakery, all a culmination of a creative and unique professional life.  At the age of 18 she was cooking steak au poive and bananas foster tableside at a formal French restaurant in Pennsylvania, at 21 she was a signmaker for IKEA in Baltimore.  At 24, she sold and marketed Catamount ales, one of the first microbrewed beers in the nation.  Since then, she’s helped to develop an award-winning employment program for people with developmental disabilities, and worked again in  marketing at Magic Hat Brewing in South Burlington, VT.

Phil and Jodi met and fell in love in 2007.  Phil sold his bakery and moved across the lake to Burlington, to make a new home with Jodi and her two children, Olivia and Caleb.  Together they bring together their passion for great food and their love for strong community ties in their new bakery.  Their goal is to create a new place that feels like it’s been there forever…. a bakery that leaves you feeling nurtured and warm, happy and fulfilled.

The Name…

Phil and Jodi wanted a name for their bakery that resonated warmth.  While keeping their eyes and minds open, they came upon a poem by the Vermont poet Hayden Carruth, entitled “August First.”  They loved the poem, and thought its title would make a great name for the bakery.  They thought about August First in Vermont, and how it’s when summer finally arrives, and the lake is truly warm.

When researching the date a little further, they discovered, remarkably, that August 1st was the traditional date for an early European harvest festival called Lammas Day, which celebrated the annual wheat harvest.  Villagers would bake bread, and celebrate another year’s bounty.  Perfect!

The poem that started it all.

In honor of Hayden, who passed away in 2008, and his former wife Rose Marie, who visited us at the bakery and told us how she remembered the night the poem was written, we keep geraniums in our windows.

August First

Late night on the porch, thinking
of old poems. Another day’s
work, another evening’s,
done. A large moth, probably
Catocala, batters the screen,
but lazily, its strength spent,
its wings tattered. It perches
trembling on the sill. The sky
is hot dark summer, neither
moon nor stars, air unstirring,
darkness complete; and the brook
sounds low, a discourse fumbling
among obstinate stones. I
remember a poem I wrote
years ago when my wife and
I had been married twenty-
two days, an exuberant
poem of love, death, the white
snow, personal purity. now
I look without seeing at
a geranium on the sill;
and, still full of day and evening,
of what to do for money,
I wonder what became of
purity. The world is a
complex fatigue. The moth tries
once more, wavering desperately
up the screen, beating, insane,
behind the geranium. It is an
immense geranium,
the biggest I’ve ever seen,
with a stem like a small tree
branching, so that the two thick arms
rise against the blackness of
this summer sky, and hold up
ten blossom clusters, bright bursts
of color. What is it — coral,
mallow? Isn’t there a color
called “geranium”? No matter.
They are clusters of richness
held against the night in quiet
exultation, five on each branch,
upraised. I bought it myself
and gave it to my young wife
years ago, in a plastic cup
with a 19cent seedling
from the supermarket, now
so thick, leathery-stemmed,
and bountiful with blossom.
The moth rests again, clinging.
The brook talks. The night listens.