Seasons’ Yield expands into Lexington 

“Bread Day” family brings new café to downtown’s Main Street


Catherine McKean

Seasons’ Yield’s fall toast sampler is made with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.

Catherine McKean, Arts & Life Editor

On Aug. 15, Daniel and Fawn Shear opened the doors of Seasons’ Yield at Haywood’s, establishing their first brick-and-mortar satellite location away from their home base in Raphine, Virginia. Two months later, I visited Lexington’s newest bakery and met the owners.

The Shears, which include the couple and their five children, moved to Rockbridge County in 2016 after Daniel Shear left the active-duty Army. The family moved to be with his father.  

“My time in the army brought perspective to life,” Daniel Shear said. “My wife and I became increasingly interested in doing something together after years of having a lifestyle of separation. We wanted to build; we wanted to do something where we could use our hands because there’s a special fulfillment, a beauty and purpose, in doing things with your hands.” 

Despite not coming from agricultural backgrounds, the Shear couple started Seasons’ Yield, a farm focused on produce, and began growing and selling lettuce and carrots. 

In 2017, they began to experiment with leavened loaves of sourdough bread, and thus bread quickly became the focal point of the farm’s production. With the help of his father, Daniel Shear even built a masonry oven where the bread could be baked. 

Neighbors and friends began to place pre-orders for bread and produce. Over the years, this system of placing orders evolved into what many students affectionately know as “Bread Day,” an event at the Raphine farm that occurs every other Saturday. 

The Bread Day schedule stems from Daniel Shear’s old firefighting schedule. At the time, he was off every other Saturday, so friends could visit and enjoy the baked goods on those days. 

On days designated as Vendor Days, the farm also features local vendors selling art, produce, meat and other hand-made goods that visitors can check out while they enjoy live music from local musicians.

Bread Day has become increasingly popular within the Washington and Lee community over the past two years, with many of the university’s students, mostly women, flocking to the farm with their friends to enjoy sunny fall days while stocking up on fresh bread. 

“We’ve had a lot of really wonderful support from the university community,” Daniel Shear said. “Students are becoming a big part of our considerations as a business, and we’ve been working on timing our events to coincide with when students are on campus and available.” 

The Haywood’s location being so close to campus is more than ideal for the business. Daniel Shear said that it was all made possible when the owner of The Georges reached out to the Shears to offer them use of the Haywood’s space in the morning. 

“We always dreamed of what it would look like coming into town, but were never able to make it happen until now,” Daniel Shear said. 

The café offers a selection of fresh-baked bread and pastries, a full espresso bar and a curated menu of seasonally-inspired breakfast and brunch meals. 

The toast sampler, which features all three of the seasonal toasts, gives customers the opportunity to experience the bakery’s seasonal and locally-sourced creations. For this fall, the sampler includes the “Pumpkin Patch,” the “Apple Orchard” and the “West Coast.”

The “Pumpkin Patch” toast is a pumpkin-buttered toast topped with spiced pecans. The “Apple Orchard” features a cream cheese spread covered with slices of green apples and spiced nuts glazed with cinnamon. The “West Coast” is smothered with honey-sweetened ricotta cheese, slices of local figs, pistachios and lemon zest.

 “My favorite toast was the West Coast,” said Blake Ramsey, ‘23, after he finished his breakfast. “It was the greatest combination of flavors, with the savory cheese and the sweet honey and the crispness of figs.”

Fawn Shear is the mastermind behind the combinations, which are based on ingredient availability from local farms that the Shears regularly collaborate with, including Paradox Farms and Red Wing Orchard. 

“Why the seasonality? It’s in the name — Seasons’ Yield,” Daniel Shear said.

Community is also an integral component when making decisions on what to produce to match the seasons.

“Whenever it comes time to make our seasonal bread, we bring our friends over — a lot of our friends are foodies in the area and know what there is a lack of in the county,” said Daniel Shear. “We look for what’s unique, and they let us know what they would like to see more of. Our seasonal menus are a communal effort.” 

Looking towards the future, the Shears will continue to “make bread in the most difficult way possible by choice,” Daniel Shear said. They source their materials from local farms, mill their own flour, hand-knead their dough and maintain an “artful control” over the bread that they make. 

 Seasons’ Yield at Haywood’s is open at their Main Street location from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Sunday.  Upcoming Bread Days will be on Nov. 5, Dec. 3 and Dec. 17.