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Sugar House Farmers Market: What Makes a Mini Market So Big?

Nov 06, 2015 12:26PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Elizabeth Suggs

Every Friday from July 10 to Oct. 16, a Sugar House mini Farmers Market is set in a parking lot near the Sugarmont Plaza. 

Opened in 2010, the farmers market offers a chance for local, and not-so-local, vendors to sell produce, cookies, cheeses and more to willing Sugar House residents and visitors. While the vendors are few in numbers, they make up for it in attitude.

In response to why Sugar House’s market is so small compared to downtown’s, Kim Zarkin, board chair of Sugar House Farmers Market, said it had to do with the size of the community. 

“We are a smaller community,” Zarkin said. “And there aren’t as many people who would attend on a regular basis.” 

Zarkin says Sugar House Farmers Market isn’t planning to get bigger anytime soon. According to Zarkin, Sugar House will “always aim to be a smaller community market.” 

Michael Rosa (Chef Benedict), part of Epicurean Chefs and vendor at Sugar House Farmers Market, wasn’t aware of the purpose for a mini market and said the size had to do with its age. 

Already working with other markets, Rosa was both more critical of Sugar House’s market as well as hopeful. He compared the market in Sugar House to the one in downtown, saying it still had a long way to go before it matched what downtown has to offer.

Rosa offered foods free of steroids, growth hormone and antibiotics.

“We want to be part of the food solution, not the problem,” he said. 

While the “emphasis,” according to the Sugar House market website, is on local farmers and ranchers, the arts, packaged foods and prepared foods are encouraged. 

Nick Smedes and wife Jessica Doner, part of Jessica’s Jewelry Box, started selling their product at Sugar House Farmers Market in hopes to be part of the farmers market. Doner started making her jewelry five years ago and while she’s been creating her jewelry two years longer than Smedes, she wasn’t present at the farmers market. According to Smedes, Doner was out of town. 

“My wife got me into this,” Smedes said. “I like this and like supporting my wife, but she’s the main person.” 

Jessica’s Jewelry offers a range of stones, earrings and other jewels. According to Smedes, it was the first time Jessica’s Jewelry was sold at Sugar House Farmers Market. 

“We heard there were bigger crowds,” Smedes said. “It’s a nice place to be part of this. We like farmers markets.”

Even the Girl Scouts were getting in on the action. In order for Girl Scout Troop 762 to earn their Silver Award Project, they were earning money by selling dog treats.  

Having everything handmade, because the girls didn’t obtain food handler’s permits, according to one of the Girl Scouts present at the market, the treats had to be for pets.

Cookies and other treats for human consumption could be found at the market. Some of the treats were even made for Halloween. Festive treats could be found at Auntie Rae’s Dessert Island. Treats included cookies dressed up as pumpkins, skeletons and blue and red spider webs. 

The treats sold, according to worker Kara Black, were sold better in store, but after reduced fees in the company, having the product sold temporarily at the market helped get their name out. 

“It’s a good experience for more coming to the shop,” Black said. “We don’t expect to make much money here at all.” 

Others at the market were there for an experience different from that of the downtown farmers market. Seeing regulars was more important for Caribbean-styled hot sauce company Van Kwartel. This, according to Tracy, Van Kwartel’s hot sauce cook, was to be part of the Sugar House Farmers Market. 

“This is a chance to talk to our regular customers,” Tracy said. “It’s a more intimate feel.” 

Even unopened, Van Kwartel’s hot sauce had to be refrigerated due to the product being fresh rather than fermented or canned. 

According to the Van Kwartel website, the company hopes to add a twist to modern society by giving a chance for customers to explore complex flavors from different cultures.  

For all of those who missed this year’s event, the market generally opens the Friday after July 4 and runs for 15 weeks, according to Zarkin. Dates for next year’s market have not been set officially.       

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