“Come to the Table”: How a group of friends is breaking bread with the Joplin community

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(Left to right) Sami Jo Groenke, Ashley Le Blanc, Conor Le Blanc, Nikki Webster, and Andrew Webster are all smiles for Forest+Field’s first ever Pizza Club night.

“I want people to feel at home.”

Nikki Webster, Forest+Field Bakery

Ever since she can remember, Nikki Webster has been in love with food.

But now, with her husband, Andrew, along with some close friends, Nikki is sharing that love with the Joplin area. Their grassroots bakery, Forest+Field, opened its doors at 20th and Sergeant back in October — combining an old world tradition with a modern atmosphere.

The bakery’s origins circled around a simple idea: community. While Andrew was deployed, Nikki spent her days in the kitchen filling her time experimenting with flavors to create an array of items now on the bakery’s menu. But, things really took off when he returned home.

“I had no desire to turn this into a business — I just really like food and I enjoy eating food and sharing it with people,” Webster explained. “And he always sees a bigger picture that can reach further beyond and do more than what I feel comfortable with so, yeah — it was all him.”

All items on the bakery’s menu feature sourdough bread, which provides a various array of health benefits while still leaving your stomach full.

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According to Webster, wheat contains phytic acid, a natural substance that leaves the body feeling bloated while making it difficult to absorb the bread’s nutrients. However, the sourdough bread is made through a process called fermentation, which uses live cultures (“good bacteria”) to break down the phytic acid — thus allowing the bread to nourish the body without leaving it feeling sluggish.

”How we feel in our skin, from our gut, to our skin and our emotions and everything in between — that’s what we should really be talking about. And it all starts with food.”

But the one thing they love more than food? People.

“I want to more than provide people with real food and the message of real food and its effects on our body,” Webster added. ”This idea that the way in which we eat food and the event of coming to the table and creating a life-giving table is also really good and healthy for us.”

The bakery features a rustic-antique look, with a “help yourself” feel. When visitors come in, they are encouraged to grab a mug out of the bakery’s china cabinet and have a conversation with the person next to them.

“We have a real familial vibe going on and that’s probably, more than anything, what we want people to feel when they come here,” Webster explained. ”Because I think that if they feel comfortable enough and feel some ownership in the place where they’re eating their food, then that’s just going to create an environment for really good things to grow completely beyond food — relationships, authentic community, conversations.

From the wheat fields to the oven, Webster, along with her family and friends, are inviting the Four State community feed their bodies and souls — making “Come to the Table” so much more than just a motto.

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