Local farmers markets offer more than kale and cucumbers

Monday July 22, 2013

BENNINGTON -- On Saturday, the Walloomsac Farmers' Market was buzzing with activity. Maybe it had something to do with the finally tolerable outdoor temps.

Three local businesses at the market stood out as ones that deserved a little recognition. Like the sound of them? Visit their booths during next Saturday's Walloomsac Farmers' Market between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.


Small batch, homemade jams based in Rupert.

Ross Warren has enjoyed making jam for quite some time, both for himself, his family, and his friends. It wasn't until his sister told him he should, "stop giving it away and start selling it to make some money," that he founded present-day Jamtastic Jams, his homemade jam business, which opened in March of 2011.

Upon inception, Warren purchased an old restaurant in East Arlington, and converted its professional kitchen into his jam headquarters.

Warren and his wife, Denine began selling their 11 different jam varieties at local farmers' markets, including the Walloomsac Farmers' Market, and have been very successful. Warren's jam is now sold in over 40 stores throughout the country.

Jamtastic jams retail for $8 a jar and are made with all natural ingredients. Denine Warren noted that their jam is forever free of artificial sweeteners.

"Our jam is really all about the fruit," she said. "We only use enough sugar to make it into jam. The rest is sweetened with apple juice concentrate. It's a great product for diabetics or anyone else that is careful about what they eat."

Their best sellers to date? Wild Maine Blueberry, Bourbon peach, Strawberry Balsamic, and Apricot Peach flavored jams. Those who enjoy a little spice with their sweet might consider trying Jamtastic's "Hot for Habanero" cranberry or strawberry jams.

To learn more about Jamtastic, visit their website: www.jamtasticjam.com, Jamtastic's Facebook page, or give the Warrens a call at 802-375-4003.


Hand-dipped carob dog treats, hand-sewn cat and dog toys

When she was 13 years old, North Adams, Mass. native, Kate Barbeau decided she wanted to join the Student Ambassadors Program on their trip to Australia. The only catch? It was going to cost her upwards of $7,000.

To raise money, she channeled her animal-loving energy and started her own dog treat business, Sweet Paws.

Barbeau purchased commercial dog biscuits and hand-dipped them in carob and animal-friendly sprinkles, which she repackaged and sold at dog shows she frequently attended with her Rottweiler, Liberty.

Before long, she has successfully raised enough money to fund her trip.

Barbeau enjoyed making these sweet treats so much that she decided to continue making the biscuits, even branching out to make catnip treats for cats, and hand-swen cat and dog toys made out of the cuffs of old jeans, which she now sells at local farmers' markets and festivals, alongside her mother, Jen.

Now 20 years old and a junior at Mount Ida College, Barbeau is funding her education with her small business, hoping to one day become a veterinarian.

"This whole thing has really worked out well for Kate," Jen Barbeau said. "In fact, her dog toys are going to be sold at a new recycled goods boutique opening up on Main Street in Bennington."

Barbeau's pet-friendly goodies are also sold at three specialty shops in Massachusetts.

Kate is happy to take special orders from customers. Call her at 413-663-9761 or visit her at Sweet Paws' booth next Saturday at the Walloomsac Farmers' Market.


Handmade quilts, clothing, baby bibs and hats

Laura Bittel, of Arlington has always enjoyed quilting and making fabric crafts. One year, Bittel said she attended a number of baby showers. As gifts, she made bibs by hand which her friends absolutely loved. The positive feedback she received inspired her to start selling her bibs.

So, in 2009, Bittel began attending farmers' markets and festivals with her bibs and a few other items.

Bittel's husband is also an avid crafter, but mostly with wood. The couple decided to start up a craft business together, under the name Hiz and Herz, to successfully represent their combined creative efforts.

Today, Laura frequents the Walloomsac Farmers' Market, among many others, with a booth chock-full of adorable, colorful quilts, baby bonnets, little girls dresses, matching doll dresses and outfits, and of course, bibs, along with countless other items, all of which she makes herself. She also sells books with her own quilt patterns.

"It's just so fun," Bittel said. "I really enjoy it."

Bittels crafts are of course available for purchase at the Walloomsac Farmers' Market, but also online through her Etsy store, Happeetreequilts.etsy.com. She also invites inquiring minds to visit Hiz and Herz's Facebook page to learn more.

Contact Elizabeth Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com.

Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.


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