Producer Spotlight: Schofield Farm
We’re so fortunate to have a local gourmet mushroom producer! Growing mushrooms was a relatively easy decision and a good fit for Paul and Katie Schofield. They appreciate not only their taste and nutritional properties, but also the fact that the production process is gentle on the planet.
The low ecological footprint was a big priority for Paul, who obtained a Biology Degree from VCU and currently works at the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Center of VSU. Within this role he maintains chickens, rabbits, a vegetable garden, and a small orchard. He is committed to ongoing study and research to stay current in the field and to perfect growing processes at work and home.
In 2014, the Schofields started small by growing 10-20 pounds of oyster mushrooms per week at their 5 acre farm in Ford, Virginia. From the start, they used only natural materials with no chemical sprays or additives. They eventually obtained two shipping containers and outfitted them with insulation, climate control and humidification. They also purchased a greenhouse for incubation space and learned that growing on sawdust and soybean hulls was the most effective strategy.
Paul and Katie have consistently used sustainable practices to keep their environmental footprint low. They take full advantage of the high organic matter present in the spent mushroom substrate (of soybean hulls, sawdust and mycelium). By adding it to activated biochar and aged manure from local grass-fed cattle and their own sheep, they create compost to grow other crops on their farm. As a result of gaining more experience and equipment to refine their growing process, they added shiitake and lions mane mushrooms to their production. By 2015 Schofield Farm began selling their line of gourmet mushrooms for the community to enjoy!
Fast forward to 2020 and they are now growing and selling 150-200 pounds of mushrooms per week to local chefs and farmers market customers! It’s amazing they can make time for this level of production as Katie is a music teacher in the Dinwiddie public school system and they have two children aged one and four. This busy couple has a clear commitment to learning, improving, and expanding and clearly thrive on the challenge! They are currently trialing five varieties of garlic and have had great success with growing ginger and strawberries. So be on the look-out for new products coming your way!
Mushrooms are such a versatile, welcome additions to meals. They soak up delicious oils and spices while adding umami and nutritional benefits. Paul’s favorite use for his beloved mushrooms is Jagerschnitzel, a German dish with a mushroom onion gravy over pork with a side of potatoes. He sometimes likes to keep things simple and cut thick slices of shiitake to cook in butter with salt and fresh homegrown garlic. He’s a big fan of mushrooms in beef stew and stir fry.
Take advantage of having a mushroom grower just outside of Richmond! Shop Schofield Farm’s mushrooms to add savory taste and unique texture to your meals! They make a great addition to your holiday stuffing or gravy for your turkey!
Producer Spotlight: Turkey Creek Bakery
We are all fortunate that Erin Phelan somehow carves time out in her busy schedule to pursue her love of baking! Her day job as a Project Manager for a construction company couldn’t be more different than her culinary passion. It seems the contrast has everything to do with how she pulls off both so successfully!
Four years ago Erin was living in Colorado. As someone who likes to stay busy and active, she was struggling to embrace spending more time indoors during a harsh winter. So she tapped into her interest in baking, remarking, “Baking checks a lot of boxes for me. I like to be productive and use my hands. It gives me the time I need by myself. It’s my creative outlet where I get to call the shots.”
She continued to refine her breadmaking skills through endless self-study, online research, and most importantly, practice. She described the pursuit by stating, “You learn the most through doing. There’s a real art to it that you must learn through touch and feel. I love the tight texture of working challah and brioche but also the challenge of wetter fermented doughs.”
With a background in environmental science, Erin has always prioritized the use of locally sourced ingredients in her baked creations. In 2017, she and her husband bought a six acre farm that borders Turkey Creek in Moseley. She was thrilled and surprised to find an organic source of whole wheat berries right around the corner in Powhatan! Pete Sisti of Greater Richmond Grains is more than just a supplier. He is a wealth of knowledge and support, which he shares generously. He also connected Erin to Common Grain Alliance, a diverse group of professional and home bakers who share information, as well as a passion for locally produced grains.
After connecting with Pete, she purchased a table-top mill and started Turkey Creek Bakery to share her hand-crafted small batch artisan breads with the community. She attracted customers who appreciate her attention to detail and unique flavors. They love her remarkable variety of products for such a small bakery, such as her farmhouse buttermilk biscuits, whole wheat boules, white and multigrain breads, and more! They also share her enthusiasm for local ingredients. In fact, Erin uses eggs from her own chickens and ducks, and recently, her own home-grown rhubarb and sweet potatoes!
Erin is partial to her sourdough breads including her cinnamon raisin variety that she uses for a sweet and savory breakfast sandwich with an over easy egg, sharp cheddar, and bacon. She also loves her walnut whole wheat toasted with good old peanut butter and banana slices. A top seller right now is her vanilla-raisin-thyme challah rolls, which cannot be beat in taste, texture or presentation!
Erin can make your holidays easier and tastier! Pick up her sweet potato pecan muffins or holiday scones for breakfast! She has your dinner rolls covered as well as walnut whole wheat bread for sandwiches of leftover turkey and cranberry sauce! Or have your turkey with avocado and havarti on her sourdough! After receiving several requests for gluten-free bread, Erin began experimenting with gluten-free items. Starting in December she plans to offer a bread made with gluten-free flour!
Enjoy the taste and satisfaction that come from supporting this local baker who also supports local agriculture!
Producer Spotlight: My Empanada
Claudia Urrea of My Empanada loves bringing Columbian cuisine to the Richmond area farmers markets! Why empanadas? “They are a staple for all meals and snacks, a comfort food you can find on every corner throughout most of South America. They are like American hot dogs or pizza,” Claudia replied. It was a welcome challenge to introduce them to first-time customers but now she consistently hears they are the best empanadas around!
Claudia moved to the United States from Columbia almost twenty years ago, settling in North Carolina with her husband and kids. She pursued her love of making pastries by working in local bakeries and taking culinary classes at the local community college. Upon moving to Roanoke, she continued making baked goods in a local hotel while she and her husband devised a plan to start a food truck business. This was an ambitious and innovative endeavor for the area fifteen years ago! Her husband’s welding and mechanical skills came in handy as he gutted and transformed a box truck into a portable kitchen for selling sweet and savory crepes! It was a tremendous amount of work and a roaring success!
In 2016 they moved to the Richmond area and Claudia decided she wanted to focus exclusively on empanadas. Her goal was to create easy flavorful meals for busy people that incorporated her Grandmother’s original recipe and additional creations inspired by countries throughout the world. By 2017 Claudia rented kitchen space and My Empanada was officially launched! Soon thereafter she was greeting regular customers at three local farmers markets. She remarked, “It took consistency and perseverance because I had to provide a lot of education about empanadas and South American culture; but it came with a big reward.”
My Empanada’s ready-to-bake hand-held pies come in a scrumptious variety including chicken, beef, pork, and veggie. The crust is made from scratch and Claudia frequently uses fresh produce from fellow market vendors. Her current best seller is the RVA empanada, which Claudia described by stating, “It’s more of a Mexican dish with guajillo peppers, chicken, onions, and cheese. It’s smoky and tangy.” Keep an eye out for their specialty offerings like their Italian inspired Caprino empanada with fresh mozzarella, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes.
The platters are a welcome supply of easy savory meals, especially during the hectic holiday season! There’s a gluten-free option too! Parents send them with their kids when they head back to college. Busy working folks grab one for breakfast for their morning commute and as an easy portable lunch. Their sauces add more umami and come in red, avocado and the popular chipotle. Thankfully, they added alfajores to the line-up about a year ago! Who can resist gooey dulce de leche and coconut sandwiched between shortbread cookies?!
Claudia’s beloved Nana passed away this year at 98. She remarkably worked in her own restaurant until she was 92, a testament to the benefits of consistently leading an active lifestyle and pursuing a true passion. Her empanadas live on in Claudia’s creations! Bring the taste of Columbian cuisine to your family with My Empanada!
Producer Spotlight: Donovan's Apiaries
Beekeeping for the Donovan family is certainly a family affair! Peter Donovan’s father was a small commercial beekeeper. He passed on his love of bees and his beekeeping knowledge to his son, as well as one small hive eight years ago. Now Peter, Megan, and their three children have around 200 hives spread across their land as well as seven bee yards throughout Western Goochland. The bees on their property enjoy 50 acres full of nectar sources like tulip poplars, clover, holly bushes, aster, wildflowers and the flowering crops in their small family garden.
Peter and Megan met in high school in Goochland. Megan teachers first grade in the county. Peter, who always has a spare hive box in his truck, works as a forester for a local electric company. It has come in handy numerous times for safely removing swarms and bringing them home! The whole Donovan family pitches in to make the honey production possible. Peter focuses on hive maintenance and honey extraction, while Megan handles marketing, selling, and creating their beeswax products. The kids, aged eight, five, and two, move and clean boxes and eat their fair share of the rewards from the family’s efforts! Their Facebook page features the bees at work, their delectable local honey, and the family enjoying their beautiful Goochland property.
Beekeeping work varies by the season. In late June the Donovans were busy removing about 20-60 pounds of honey PER HIVE! It is hot, sticky work! They stack 10 hives at a time for the extraction process. The golden goodness is collected into large tanks before it is drained, transferred to smaller buckets, and then finally poured into different sized bottles for eager customers! Right now Peter is busy checking the weight of hives and feeding the bees supplemental sugar water if needed. He’s checking for varroa mites, the biggest pest for honeybees. Finally, He’s tipping the boxes forward to avoid water collection and combining some hives if necessary to ensure adequate nutrition through the winter. Then they leave them “bee” until the Spring! 🐝
Farmers Market customers, as well as retail stores in both Goochland and Richmond love Donovan Apiaries! Many regulars report using their honey in place of refined sugar for their favorite baking recipes, including sticky sweet delicious baklava of course! Family and friends always welcome honey-inspired appetizers the Donovans bring to special gatherings, like the simple treat of honey with brie and crackers.
Many customers are partial to their creamed honey with their cinnamon version being in especially high demand this time of year! Others prefer their chunk honey which really connects customers to the beloved bees who worked so hard to make the sweet treat! Honey is such a quintessential gift by itself or in a dish because it remains a fascinating gooey, golden natural source of sweetness that virtually everyone adores! Plus, it’s versatility gives it tremendous appeal!
Enjoy some honey from this local Goochland family who carves out time in their busy lives for their beekeeping passion. A gift of honey, as well as their natural and chocolate orange truffle beeswax lip balms, makes everyone happy!
Producer Spotlight: Laura's Botanicals
Laura Baum has an infectious sincere passion for her products and the power of herbalism. It’s evident in her remark about her approach to helping the community: “The education and support come first, then the products. My goal is to have a greater impact by teaching others how herbs can be used to help them get in charge of their health.” She loves everything about the work behind Laura’s Botanicals, from growing herbs, creating high quality natural products, and providing support and guidance through her consultations and coaching as an herbalist.
Within Laura’s career, she has worked with youth with a broad spectrum of behavioral and emotional challenges. She has been a licensed childcare worker at the Weinstein JCC for seven years, serving children through their inclusion-based approach. Three years ago she decided to take some personal autoimmune challenges into her own hands and delved whole heartedly into extensive research about what she put into and on her body. Laura was immediately drawn to herbalism. She viewed it as the perfect fit for her energetic optimistic disposition and her belief in the restorative power of nature and plants.
Laura began making her own small batch botanical infused products with an herbal oil foundation that incorporates local herbs and beeswax. She described her initial creations by stating, “They were my saving grace. I love producing my own goods with ingredients that are close to me.” In fact, she grows many of the herbs in her products, favoring native varieties. She prioritizes the use of ingredients from local sustainable organic growers. One of her current best-sellers is her Stay Rooted Anti-Tension Herbal Body Oil. It’s a great introduction to her products with its earthy natural smell and soothing effect on the mind and body. The rose water mist is in high demand too due to its ability to calm and hydrate irritated skin. Her full line includes bath bombs, face serums, hand moisturizers, lip balms, and more!
Laura continued to devote herself to working with children but carved out time to become an herbalist. She is now a true wealth of knowledge about the health-giving power of plants! She is committed to helping others become knowledgeable about the benefits of herbs and even to grow their own! She founded the Richmond Herbalism Guild and facilitates a popular Community Facebook group of customers who share tips and support. She provides consultations that include an extensive health assessment and a personalized plant plan, as well as ongoing monthly support services. There is irrefutable value in making time for self-care and customers report that Lauras Botanicals products are self-soothing, nurturing, and rejuvenating.
Laura is in an exciting time of growth as demand for her online herbalism health coaching increases. She described her supportive approach by stating, “When explaining the value of my products, I tell them it’s not indulgence, it’s a need. My role is to put their health in their own hands and to promote self-determination. I take a holistic approach and I love building people up.” What continues to inspire Laura is the plants themselves and how they keep her grounded and connected to nature. She also possesses a remarkable enthusiasm for bringing the community together in nature to reap all of its natural holistic benefits, remarking, “Nature provides us a place to reflect and gather.”
When you enjoy a product from Laura’s Botanicals, you can feel good about making time for yourself, supporting a local producer, and using a natural source of restoration and rejuvenation for your skin!
Producer Spotlight: Woodsong Naturals
Bob Wood of Woodsong Naturals Farm possesses a unique and admirable passion for helping residents of developing countries improve their ability to grow nutrient dense food. He ambitiously pursued this interest in some remarkable ways.
As part of an internship for the Agricultural Technology program at Virginia Tech, Bob helped war refugees in Belize to develop life-saving agricultural programs. Upon obtaining his BS in Crop and Soils Science and MS in Agroforestry, his career focused on restoring the health and vigor of marginal lands and communities in third world countries. Later he served as the Associate Director of International Recruitment for VCU and an international agricultural consultant, with both jobs taking him all over the world!
Neither Bob nor his wife Neila grew up on a farm, but both believe that an agrarian environment is instrumental to teaching children how to work hard, and respect and appreciate the land and animals that provide them nourishment. Bob was always experimenting with growing plants as a child, and described his father’s inspirational role by stating, “Being raised
on a farm made my dad tough as nails. My grandfather didn’t buy a tractor until my father went to college. He farmed with mules.” He believes this lifestyle produces a good work ethic, remarking, “Whether it is assisting a birth of an animal in the middle of the night, caring for livestock, timely planting, building your house, or diligent academic study, learning to be an integral productive part of a team is a lifelong skill.”
Upon Neila and Bob having their fourth child, they pursued their dream to raise their growing family on a farm and purchased 49 acres in Caroline County. They cleared 12 acres and built a 100 year-old reclaimed barn where they lived for three years while they impressively built their family home. Somehow this busy farming family, now with a total of ten kids, makes time for home-schooling. The kids are thriving and have gained countless practical life skills and entrepreneurial strengths from farm life. The older children are pursuing diverse careers including welding, mechanics, chemical engineering, arboriculture, and butchery. Their 16 year-old daughter is the talented baker behind their scones and ginger cookies!
The Wood family is committed to growing their over 60 varieties of vegetables and herbs naturally with no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Their growing practices include minimal tillage and the use of cover crops, wood chips, and other natural organic amendments to
improve soil health and fertility. This past year they added a geothermal greenhouse to their three hoop houses and successfully grew lettuce and greens year-round! Bob clearly relishes his recent decision to make farming his full-time job, remarking, “I love working outside with
living things, being with my family in nature, and serving people. I find the reward is the work itself and love that I’m always doing something different!”
In addition to their home grown produce and baked goods, they offer eggs from their free-ranged ducks and chickens who eat non-GMO, verified chemical free feed. Woodsong Naturals Farms also partners with another small, off the grid farm to offer delectable organic, raw, grassfed, A2 cheeses in cheddar, Colby, and pepper jack.
The family still makes time to work with the international population in Richmond and assist with ESL to refugees. They frequently host guests and welcome visits from RVAg customers! They know that healthy soil leads to healthy plants and healthy consumers. Check out the naturally grown produce, free range non-GMO eggs, and other tasty goods from Woodsong Naturals Farm and support this local happy farming family who cares about their local community and beyond!
Producer Spotlight: The Freckled Farm Soap Company
Not every couple can successfully work together, but Crystal and Kevin of The Freckled Farm Soap Company are a perfect fit. Crystal describes it this way: “We do better when we’re together. We both thrive. He creates the signature recipes with his science and tech brain and I get to be visually creative.”
Crystal is a photographer and taught Art at Goochland High School. Kevin’s career was in the home technology field. Neither grew up on a farm but Crystal always wanted goats, especially Nubians with their long soft ears and sociable disposition. Kevin shared her interest in their lovable antics, as well as the idea of farm life. With busy careers, they resigned themselves to postponing the dream for retirement and even tried their hand at living in the busy city of Philadelphia. They left after one year to return to the considerably less busy city of Richmond, but country life kept calling! Finally in 2008 they bought a capecod with 3 acres in Goochland and embarked on an incredible journey!
When Crystal and Kevin decide upon a goal, they fully commit and delve in with all they’ve got! The first thing they did to prepare for a goat farm was to tour local farms and obtain the best possible mentors in Don and Carol Baker, whom they met with weekly for two years! They started with 5 Nubian goats and connected with a phenomenal large animal veterinarian, Dr. Melinda McCall, who quickly became a critical source of support, guidance, and friendship. Crystal described their approach by stating, “We built a community that taught us how to have a healthy herd. They took us under their wing and gave us confidence as I am hypervigilant about the care of our goats. Now I pay it forward.”
Crystal and Kevin have been meticulous in their goat milk product development. They worked on their first goat milk soap for over a year, making thousands of bars before finalizing their recipe. They spend months researching and testing each new product they release. They started with goat milk bar soap and quickly expanded their product line to include goat milk lotions and laundry soap, as well as essential oil rollers and beeswax candles.
Crystal emphasized their consistent focus on the environment by stating, “We must think about everything that goes down the drain. We are careful about how we source material and only work with certified sustainable organic sources.” With the high fat content from the goat milk and no sulfates, their products are truly hydrating with no adverse effects on the water system.
They now offer 20 varieties of soaps! Their popular Cleopatra has warm scents of frankincense and myrrh. The Lemongrass Green Tea is refreshing and inviting while the crisp aroma of the Peppermint Eucalyptus will perk you up. With other scents like Virginia Cedar and Sunrise Citrus everyone can find a favorite or two or three! The Fall goat milk product line with orange spice and clove essential oils is going quickly and a turmeric goat milk soap will be coming soon!
Crystal and Kevin left their full-time jobs to fully devote themselves to farming life with their now 11 year old son (a budding ornithologist) and 8 year old daughter (who aspires to be a large animal vet). Their Celtic names mean “freckled,” hence inspiring the name of the farm. Now up to six acres, they provide an ideal home of rotating pastures and woods for their 16 Nubian goats. Upon reflecting on their life that was initially a retirement dream, Crystal states, “I’m proud of the farm and the beautiful healthy herd. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It feels good to offer something that’s better for the environment. We supply the best product possible with the least environmental impact.”
The Freckled Farm Soap Company Gift Sets are a wonderful way to experience their products. Give this special, all natural gift to yourself or a loved one and appreciate the labor of love, conscientiousness and gratitude behind each product!
Producer Spotlight: Clean Conscience Chocolates
Clean Conscience Chocolates are simply nothing like what you find in your local grocery store. Their attention to detail and simple high-quality ingredients pays off in the form of taste, texture, health, and even satiety. Mary Kennedy brings almost 15 years of experience as a Chocolatier to the Clean Conscience product line. Her passion for making chocolate led her to become certified as both a personal chef and a professional Chocolatier.
With a history in high tech sales, Mary had enough of corporate life and took the plunge 15 years ago to pursue her dream to serve as a personal chef. She was quite the culinary pioneer in Fredericksburg! She prepared food in her clients’ homes, leaving them stocked with up to a week of healthy family meals. Mary would sometimes leave the families a treat for their special events and celebrations. Her clean versions of peanut butter cups and peppermint patties soon became a regular request and her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked! She eventually opened up retail chocolate stores in Fredericksburg and then Charlottesville, which is where she met her current husband, Steve.
From their first meeting, it was clear that Mary and Steve shared a commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle. They consider themselves foodies with high expectations and standards for how they nourish their bodies, eating a clean diet of real food. Steve also decided to leave his corporate management and consulting work to join forces with Mary in a quest to provide the community with guilt-free dark chocolate treats made with real food. It’s easy to support and cheer on this couple because they created their products with their customers’ health and satisfaction as their top priority.
A family brainstorming session ensured they had the right name. It was inspired by Mary’s signature description of her chocolates: “You can indulge without the guilt.” Steve’s daughter Erin, a graphic designer, even designed the logo. Since establishing Clean Conscience Chocolates in 2018, they continue to refine their products to provide customers with the highest quality craftmanship and ingredients. From the start, their peanut butter cups, almond butter cups, peppermint patties, and coconut joys were Vegan, and free from soy, gluten, dairy and refined sugars; but they had higher aspirations for their creations.
At the Healthy Food Expo in late 2018, they connected with the only certified biodynamic chocolate source in the world, Pacari. Steve described the experience by stating, “It was the best chocolate I ever had. They are the Lamborghini of chocolates. They helped us reach our goal of 70% cacao to really increase the health benefits and taste. The chocolate is raw, meaning the beans have been dried by the sun which preserves more of their natural floral and citrus accents. Plus, the chocolate was the foundation to enable us to go organic.”
Mary and Steve additionally refined their packaging in 2019 as they are now 100% compostable! They call their products clean and green! They recently added to their product line after test marketing a raw nut and seed bark at farmers markets. The result is a combination of raw almonds, cashews and pumpkin and sunflower seeds with just the right amount of chocolate. Lots of protein without refined sugars or preservatives! Try them for hikes or bike rides or just a healthy snack between meals.
The decision to infuse some of their products with CBD came from Mary’s challenges with menopause. Since CBD provided relief from symptoms, she delved into research and received a certificate in Chocolate, CBD and Cannabis from L’Ecole Chocolat. Steve elaborated on this addition to their offerings by stating, “The quality of the CBD is key to the benefit and effect you experience. In CBD For The People we found the highest quality unrefined full spectrum products we could find. The natural hemp flavor of CBD can ruin the taste of chocolate, so we only put it in the filling. We have found that its earthy flavor actually enhances our nut butters.” CBD-infused options are available for their peanut butter and almond butter cups, as well as their peppermint patties.
Clean Conscience Chocolates has developed quite the fan base. Steve remarked, “The consistent feedback is that our customers really appreciate the quality of the ingredients and that it’s satisfying and filling because it’s real food. The surprise has been our following in the diabetic community. They can have chocolate again since all of our products except the peppermint patties have less than 6 g of sugar.” They recently learned that one customer makes a peppermint mocha latte by dropping a patty in her coffee! Steve, the self-proclaimed “Chief Taster,” likes to pair a coconut joy with bourbon or coffee. Customers also love freezing their products to eat as ice cream! The sipping chocolate will hit the spot as the weather continues to cool!
Mary and Steve have had to shift gears and adapt to these challenging times since they primarily sold their products in health food stores and cafes. They are grateful for online markets like RVAg Marketplace and see the potential long-term benefits of this valuable service that brings local producers and community members together. Add their healthy chocolate snacks to your cart and enjoy them with a clean conscience!
Producer Spotlight: Mother Shrub
Meredyth Archer cherishes memories of drinking sweet fruit vinegars with her maternal Grandmother, who insisted it was a panacea for anything that ailed you! In fact, she and her siblings would stay with her when they were sick. She promoted food as medicine, loading them up with not only vinegar but garlic, ginger and other home remedies. Meredyth said it did make her a believer and humorously added, “It helped to balance me from being a child of 70s era convenience foods and corn syrup, like Eggos!”
Meredyth began exploring the idea of bringing her Grandmother’s beloved drinking vinegar, or “shrub,” to the community. Just like her Grandmother, her recipes start with apple cider vinegar (made with a mother!) as the base. Meredyth adds her own ideas for fresh, organic non-GMO ingredients. A collection of vintage cookbooks provides additional inspiration for her creations. Coming from a long line of strong women and a welcoming home always full of people, her children describe her as everyone’s Mom. “MOTHER Shrub” was a logical choice for the name of the business she officially started in 2015. Plus, her husband and three adult children insisted upon it! Her first product was a Cranberry Shrub, followed by Black Cherry, Grapefruit, Salted Honey, and Ginger. She still keeps the ingredients simple and natural with a perfect balance of tart and sweet.
The five years have flown by! Meredyth is grateful for the community support, articles and awards she’s received since taking the leap. She’s proud of the perseverance behind pursuing a product she believed in and taking advantage of opportunities for growth. Her husband’s support has been critical. He not only provides production help but he’s the artistic mastermind behind the labels and recipes that are a perfect complement to her products. You can find her shrubs in local shops like Good Foods Grocery, Stella’s Markets and Perk and even at the New York Botanical Garden! Meredyth loves collaborating with local businesses and distilleries to create special cocktails and custom shrub flavors. She’s also joined forces with AR’s Hot Southern Honey to make a salted honey shrub and a carrot shrub! Creative and delicious!
Farmers markets are where Meredyth feels at home and embraced by the community. Market customers have reported relief from many ailments – digestive discomfort, muscle cramps, sore throats and osteoarthritis. All agree they are a fool-proof drink mixer! Two or three ingredients is all it takes to make a simple delicious cocktail or mocktail. Check out Mother Shrub recipes for non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage ideas. Use as a mixer with hard cider, seltzer, cocktails, and even beer, champagne, and wine. Meredyth’s favorites include tequila with lime or grapefruit shrub and a mint julep with black cherry shrub. She sums up the allure of her drinking vinegars by stating, “It’s for the curious. The taste is something familiar but also unexpected.” Pick up a couple of flavors and get creative with shrubs that add a welcome fresh, sweet and tangy zip!
Producer Spotlight: The Mayor
It’s inspiring and uplifting to meet people who have found a career that is truly a great fit for their passions, personality, and skills. Chef Kyle Morse is one of those people and he’s currently in such an exciting time within his career in the culinary arts. Fortunately, we get to share in the benefits of his success!
After graduating from Ball State University and the Culinary Institute of America, Kyle gained over ten years of experience cooking in New York City. This journey included everything from serving as a personal chef to celebrity families to becoming the head butcher of the Michelin Star restaurant, the Breslin. Kyle described this latter position as a turning point in his career, stating, “It’s amazing how certain jobs shaped the cook I am now. The Executive Chef at the Breslin trusted me early on. He was always building up the staff’s strengths.” He thrived under management that granted him creative freedom. The confidence and advanced butchery skills he gained led him to the next bold step in his career.
In 2018 Kyle moved to Richmond with his wife who had secured a professorship in Dance And Media Technology at VCU. Three months prior to the move they had a son who they gave the middle name of Mayor (just like Kyle and his Father) to honor his paternal grandmother, Doris Mayor Morse. Kyle fondly described Doris by remarking, “She was the sweet small-town woman who baked pies for all the children in her neighborhood. She and my grandfather were self-sufficient, tapping their own maple trees and raising goats.” While being full-time Dad for a year he formulated a plan to establish his own business of small batch hand-crafted sausages, fittingly called “The Mayor.”
He found the right source for local heritage pigs in Autumn Olive Farms, where they raise their animals in a natural environment, prioritizing their health and quality of life. Kyle also works with smaller local pig farms to create sausages for special community events. He loves supporting local growers like Liberty Tree Farm, who provide the peppers for his popular jalapeno cheddar sausage.
Richmond has proven to be such a welcoming community who appreciates his farm fresh cuisine and commitment to using all parts of humanely raised animals. Farmers Market customers like having access to local, sustainable high-end sausage from this accomplished butcher and chef. Local restaurants, breweries, and cideries have embraced his high-quality line of sausages as he frequently partners with them for fun pop-up events.
The Mayor offers a good variety of sausages including fennel garlic and bratwurst. The seasons inspire Kyle to take on special creations like his Summer Jalapeno Cheddar and his Fall Broccoli Raab Swiss. Sometimes his travels or family traditions spark new ideas like his Red Eye, Steak and Cheese, Thai Curry, and Linguica (smoked Portugese sausage)! He’s currently exploring a Vegan option so everyone in the family can find a favorite!
Come meet Kyle and pick up some of his small batch hand crafted sausages at the RVAg Urban Farmhouse-Midlothian Farmers Market. He delivers to the Midlothian and Downtown Richmond locations through RVAg Marketplace!