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Wild Earth Bakery

April, 2024

Continuing to keep it natural.

Melinda Admiraal is no stranger to the food and hospitality industry, having run for a while a catering company called Passionate Hospitality Group, which services venues that include the Sherwood Park Curling Club, Nisku’s RAD Torque Raceway, and Edmonton’s Re/Max Field. So, she knew she was rolling the dice when asked to take over Wild Earth Bakery in May of 2020, just as the world was in the perilous vice grips of a global pandemic. “Of course, there were concerns and there was a risk, but to me, it was a risk well taken,” she recalled. “As with any business during COVID.”

It was a gamble that paid off, as the bakery weathered the lockdowns and quarantine periods that Statistics Canada reported had forced some 30,000 Alberta businesses to permanently shutter their doors that year. What helped was that the products being sold by Wild Earth were seen by the government as essential goods, allowing them to operate under strict health restrictions. But working around the clock while getting familiar with running Wild Earth got Admiraal and her workforce through that precarious period.

“It was a lot of hours, and at the end of the day, I’ve got a great team of exceptional staff at the front of the house and the back of the house.”  

Melinda Admiraal said of the company’s 11 employees.

Visitors to the bakery, located in The Enjoy Centre shopping mall on the western fringe of St. Albert, are greeted by a wide selection of breads and pastries, that include roughly a dozen types of cakes, from classic chocolate to London fog. Wild Earth also creates an eclectic array of scones, muffins, tarts, and squares. For the more health-conscious lot, many items made at the bakery are also available in gluten-friendly and vegan variations.

Wild Earth also services major clients with bulk orders that include brioche bread and cinnamon buns. Adding to the revenue stream is a restaurant run by Admiraal’s business partner Shannon Butler that opened shortly after the bakery changed hands.

But the biggest seller remains their homemade breads and loaves that include whole wheat, multi-grain, Winnipeg rye and even jalapeno cheddar. It’s the sourdough bread that’s captured the palate of many of Wild Earth’s regular customers. Admiraal said that their sourdough bread normally sells out before the end of a working day and they still get requests
for more. 

“That’s the only bread I’ll eat now. There are different types of sourdough; our recipe is not sour. You know, it’s got texture. It’s got a crusty crust compared to your white breads or your whole wheat breads.”

Melinda Admiraal

The other major draw is something Admiraal stresses to customers who walk through the entrance of Wild Earth. She and her staff continue to use all of the original owner’s bakery recipes. She says not only are all the ingredients natural, they also contain no preservatives or any genetically modified organisms (GMO). She ensures that same rule applies to any new items they want to add to their bread and pastry lineup.

It’s also Wild Earth’s way of protecting a local legacy that’s nearly a century old. Its roots go back as far as 1932 when Tubby Bateman decided to take advantage of 500 square feet of store space and open up a butcher shop in Edmonton’s Mill Creek part of town. By 1948, his business expanded to the point where he took over the Red & White grocery store next door, where he expanded its inventory to include a milk bar and pharmacy. Eventually after renovations, the spot included a rumpus room and a place for all the neighbours in Old Strathcona to gather, making the store one of area’s most popular hangouts.

By 2002, Bateman’s granddaughter Dee converted the old grocery store into a Booster Juice franchise while her sister bought the space previously occupied by an IGA store, another Bateman property, where Wild Earth was established three years later. But urban renewal projects taking place on 99 Street forced Wild Earth to move from Edmonton to St. Albert in 2014. 

It’s no surprise to Admiraal that a lot of regulars include those who used to frequent the old Edmonton location so she encourages them to make special arrangements before they head north. “A lot of the people that may live in south Edmonton, or wherever in Edmonton, will actually pre-order,” she said. “So, they’ll give us a call ahead of time knowing that they’ll be in the area or have to be in St. Albert and pre order items.”

Wild Earth continues to add more options, including a vegan loaf that one staff member wants to make, but what hasn’t changed is their strict adherence to traditional ingredients and their interaction with the folks who show up at the bakery. Admiraal receives regular feedback directly from customers on their preferences while working the front desk. It’s something she says she loves to do, a side benefit from her leap of faith to buy the establishment nearly four years ago. 

“It’s all about the customer,” said Admiraal. “And that’s one thing that I’m very proud of is being there for the customer and creating things for them.” 

Wild Earth Bakery

101 Riel Drive
780-651-7362  |  [email protected]

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