We love a good farmers’ market. The fresh, local produce tastes amazing, is super affordable and supports our nearby farms. While we can’t get enough of the veggies and fruits, we’ve also discovered some local artisan brands to add to our shopping list. Wander around the downtown Memphis Farmers’ Market or the Cooper-Young Community Farmers’ Market, and you are sure to discover a new must-have. Here are six of our favorites.
6 Artisan Brands You Can Find at Local Farmers’ Markets
Black Sheep Bottling Co.
Siblings Aggie and Lawerence Russell bring their love of great food and spice to their original smoked hot sauces. “Growing up in Memphis, you develop an appreciation for great barbecue, and this was a way to take that same low- and slow-smoked approach and apply it to something else we love,” Aggie says. Every batch of peppers is smoked with real wood and uses only fresh, whole ingredients with no preservatives, added sugars or liquid smoke.
Black Sheep Bottling Co. offers original and “On Fire” smoked hot sauces. Both have a perfect balance of heat, sweetness and acidity, with a true Memphis-inspired smoke flavor. (SB Tip: Just a few drops of Black Sheep original hot sauce will turn your everyday chili into something special.)
Lawerence and Aggie are grateful to be a part of the local vendor community at Cooper-Young and other area markets. “The farmers’ market is a great place for inspiration and collaboration with other local artisans and farmers — and it’s a great place to get direct customer feedback,” explains Aggie.
You can find these tasty smoked hot sauces at the downtown Memphis Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from April to October as well as on their website. Local businesses that carry Black Sheep products include Tamboli’s Pasta & Pizza, Doc’s Wines, Spirits & More, Thomas Meat & Seafood Market, Curb Market in Crosstown Concourse, Charlie’s Meat Market, Feelin’ Memphis, High Point Grocery and Barretville General Store.
Cane & Herb
Cane & Herb offers simple syrups with a yummy herbaceous twist. Husband-and-wife team Rob and Lauren Williams use only organic or all-natural ingredients with no preservatives to create flavors that pop. Production is done in small batches for a high-quality product.
Top sellers are Lavender, Ginger and Hibiscus. “Lavender is a nice calming flavor that is very versatile. It makes a great latte and also goes well with gin,” says Rob. A newer flavor, Ginger has proven popular in the colder months and goes well with tea and whiskey. Floral with a slight tartness, Hibiscus is popular in the warmer months and is a great addition to lemonade and margaritas. Other flavors include Rose, Jalapeño and Rosemary. (SB Tip: Try the Autumn Spiced syrup with bourbon and a little lemon — you can thank us later!)
By day, Rob is a digital analytics engineer and Lauren is a dentist. Inspiration for the syrups struck after a long day at work. “I got home and Lauren asked if I wanted a drink. Of course, I said yes,” Rob tells us. Lauren made a simple syrup using fresh rosemary and added it to a cocktail. “I knew then that we had something,” Rob adds.
In addition to Cooper-Young, you can find Cane & Herb at the downtown Memphis Farmers’ Market. You can also find the syrups in local retailers like Cordelia’s Market, Everbloom Design, Stock&Belle, Buster’s Liquors & Wines, Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More, RSVP Stationers and Joe’s Wines and Liquor. Orders can also be made on their website.
LuLu’s brings something different to the Cooper-Young Community Farmers’ Market — a tasty twist on plant-based foods. One of only a few totally vegan establishments in Memphis, LuLu’s serves up baked goods that use real foods and whole ingredients, sourced locally as much as possible. “Our focus is on creating things from scratch and making food products that are either naturally plant-based (like sourdough bread) or foods that don’t seem ‘foreign’ to people who may not otherwise be interested in plant-based diets,” says co-owner Don Gaines.
A native of Ripley, TN, Don lived in both Arkansas and Missouri before returning to Tennessee with his wife. The move to Memphis seemed like the perfect time to help fill a need in the area for delicious, plant-based foods. LuLu’s was incorporated in 2017 and operates as a worker-owner cooperative.
What does Don love most about selling baked treats at the farmers’ market? “The customers! The camaraderie between vendors!” Don says. “It’s really great to see the same people and learn their names, get a sense of what’s going on in their lives, and feel like you share something together.” Customers return to the booth most often for LuLu’s black-eyed pea sausage biscuits, cinnamon streusel coffee cake, fruit hand pies and anything that includes smoked carrots. (SB Tip: While you may be skeptical of them at first, we promise the black-eyed pea sausage biscuits are divine.)
You can order from LuLu’s on their website, or find their muffins and coffee cake at Dr. Bean’s Coffee and Tea Emporium.
Customers line up for delectable hummus fresh from Samya’s Kitchen. Owner Samya Foster credits her Palestinian-born father with teaching her the cherished secret family recipe when she was 12 — and for emphasizing the importance of how your food looks. “My dad always taught me you eat with your eyes first, so make your dishes as beautiful as possible,” she says.
Her smooth and creamy hummus showcases Samya’s love of strong flavors, combining lemon, garlic and high-quality imported tahini. She started Samya’s Kitchen in 2014 to share her passion for making food for others, but she says 2020 brought her a new perspective and a determination to put more time, effort and heart into her business. “I stopped telling myself no and allowed myself to do something for me. It has been scary but so worth it,” explains the mother of three busy (and very sweet) children.
Samya offers direct orders and a subscription option through her website. Retailers that carry the savory hummus include High Point Grocery, Curb Market in Crosstown Concourse and Belltower Coffeehouse & Studio.
The Sift Bakery
The Sift Bakery specializes in the delicious business of making macarons. Owner Lonisa Bowen — better known by the nickname Lala — turned her love of baking into a one-woman show that focuses on the textures and flavors of these elegant treats. “Our products stand out because we create unique colors, styles and gluten-free flavors,” Lala explains. “Our macarons are never the same color with a particular flavor. For example, you may see our lemon macarons yellow one week and the next week that same flavor may be a blue shell with sprinkles.”
Lala fills her creations a little more than most, wanting every bite to taste as delightful as the first. Her flavors run a wide range — Pistachio, Nutella, Honey Lavender, Birthday Cake, Guava, Salted Caramel, Fruity Pebble and much more. Most in-demand are Churro, Oreo, and Chai Tea. Cinnamon and sugar shells with a signature buttercream and a caramel center make the churro macaron a hit, while the brand-name cookies added to both the buttercream and the shells ensures the enduring popularity of the Oreo macaron. “For the Chai Tea, our shells are filled with our signature chai tea filling. Our flavoring marinates overnight before we prepare the buttercream to make sure the flavor is perfect for each macaron,” Lala says.
The Sift Bakery began selling at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers’ Market in 2019. Macaron lovers can also order from the website or visit Lucy J’s Bakery in Crosstown Concourse. (SB Tip: An assortment of macarons makes a lovely birthday or hostess gift!)
Two Brooks Rice Farm
Two Brooks Rice Farm is a family enterprise — father Michael Wagner works alongside son Lawrence and daughter Abbey to produce sustainably farmed, wholesome and healthy rice varieties, rice grits, and rice flours. “As farmers, we work diligently with our land to protect a future that is not our own,” Abbey says. “We enjoy success primarily due to our realization that we must be good stewards of this earth while we work to produce your food.”
Single-estate rice grown on a family farm means that each kernel was planted, cultivated, ripened, threshed and winnowed, milled, and packaged in one place, Abbey explains. The result is a small-batch milled product that is thoughtfully produced and delicious. “Today, many consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it was grown, and we can do that,” she adds.
Popular varieties include an American basmati rice with the same aroma and taste as Indian, the Missimati Bayou Bouquet. The Blue Jasmoon is a delightful jasmine rice, and the Sable Long-Grain Black Rice not only boasts a delicious flavor but is also classified as a superfood. You’ll find rice to suit all tastes, such as long-grain white, whole long-grain brown, and long-grain red, too. (SB Tip: Don’t forget the grits! There are four flavors of “Mississippi Middlins,” which hold up delightfully on any breakfast plate.)
In addition to the Cooper-Young Community Farmers’ Market, you can find Two Brooks rice at the Memphis Farmers’ Market and online.
Here’s to supporting our local farmers and makers!
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