Market on your calendar Season ends with Apple Day
By: ROCHELLE A. SHENK Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
With the arrival of fall, so comes the end of another successful season at the Lititz Farmers Market. Two more Saturdays remain before the Water Street attraction closes with Apple Day on Oct. 13.
Kelly Withum, executive director of Venture Lititz, which co-sponsors the weekly open air market with Susquehanna Bank, said things have evolved since its debut five years ago. While growth has always been a goal, this year organizers decided to put a cap on vendors at 15 to 20 vendors. The focus has shifted to product diversity and quality products.
"It is a local, open air, community market. Many of the customers walk to the market, but it also attracts some people from other communities," Withum explained. "We have a great following. People are becoming more aware of where their food is produced and want to support their local producers."
Patrons also like to meet the people who are growing and making the food they’re purchasing.
"They ask questions and establish relationships," Withum added. "That’s something that is unique to a farmers market."
First year market master Michelle Sayles, a Kutztown University senior majoring in environmental studies, said her interest in sustainability drew her to the position.
"I’ve done some work with farms," she said. "It’s good to be able to help farmers and have a venue for their products. This market is also a resource for community organizations." She pointed out that last week (Sept. 29), the Lititz Community Chest was holding a food drive.
This summer, the market featured live music nearly every week.
"It seems that people step more lively when there’s music," Withum said.
Theme weekends include Kids Day, Dairy Day, and this weekend’s Apple Day. Also, Eastland Alpacas has had two alpacas at the market. These two soft, friendly creatures were a hit with children as the petted them and posed for photos taken by parents and grandparents.
This is also the first year that the market has participated in the state’s SNAP (Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program). The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s website indicates that SNAP is the new name for the Food Stamp program for eligible low income families. Withum said that the market will continue to participate in the program next year.
The market features a mix of ongoing vendors, some of whom have been wit the market all five seasons, and some newcomers. One of this year’s new vendors is Stephanie Samuel of Sugar Whipped Bakery, Ephrata. She grew up in Lititz, so bringing her gourmet cupcakes, whoopee pies and cake pops to the Farmers Market was a natural fit.
"I thought the cupcakes would be my top seller, but it turns out that there’s been more interest in the whoopee pies-they’re wrapped so they’re easier to eat while walking around the market, or you can eat part and save a bite or two for later," she said.
As a result, she’s expanded the variety of whoopee pies. Options for the cake portion include pumpkin, banana, chocolate, and lemon, while fillings include raspberry, nutella, mocha, peanut butter, lemon and vanilla. New fall flavors feature pumpkin and maple.
Amy Risko of Two Pups Pastries is in her third season at the market. She has several other retail outlets in the area for her pet treats, but enjoys meeting customers. She has a connection to Lititz through family members who live here. Like Samuel, she’s take some cues from customers. "People requested cat treats and cat toys, so I’ve added them. I’ve also made some business connections, and Paw Prints Gifts is also handling my products," she said.
Two Ladies Baking with its European-style crusty and sourdough breads, sticky buns, cookies, and seasonal baked items is one of the charter members of the market. "I had a stand at the market in Palmyra for a year and was really hoping that Lititz would start its own market. Since I live in Lititz, I was really excited when I heard that the market was opening. It’s wonderful to do something in my hometown," said Greta Illig.
She said that items are made using traditional recipes. Although some gluten-free items are offered, she’s had requests for more and is hoping to fill those requests and offer some traditional German breads and pastries at some point. She’s noticed that over the past five years, the market has attracted a larger customer base. "People are bringing friends and relatives, and some people are still finding out about the market," she said.
Kuntryside Orchard is also one of the market’s charter members. James Zimmerman said that the family also has a fruit stand on farm outside of Lititz. In addition to tree-ripened fruit — sweet and sour cherries, plums, peaches and apples — the farm also produces sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. "We grow a wide variety and bring whatever we have in season to the market here," he said.
This is apple season and honeycrisp apples have been the top selling apple at the farmers market stand, which also offers Kuntryside’s freshly pressed apple cider.
Zimmerman said that the market season definitely has a rhythm-the pace quickens over summer as there’s more local produce available and ebbs somewhat when school starts and people become involved with other activities.
Withum said that Venture Lititz and Friends of the Lititz Farmers Market are discussing options to extend the season for several more weeks. However details have not been finalized yet. She said that should the market season be extended in some fashion details would be available at lititzfarmersmarket.com.
Additionally the Friends of the Lititz Farmers Market is also hosting a benefit event, Shades of Autumn Gala, on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Town Center at Luther acres. The event features music gourmet fart-to-table fare, a silent auction and dancing. More MARKET, page A16