The summer heat had died down and the rain hadn’t come, so Jason and Jana Smith took their family for a Sunday stroll through the local Lakeside Makers’ Market.
The monthly Sunday market features local businesses selling more than just fresh produce, though it’s located in the Lakeside Farmers’ Market in Henrico County’s increasingly diverse Lakeside neighborhood.
“Very artistic,” said Jana Smith, pushing the one-year-old in the stroller as the 7- and 4-year-olds followed.
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For the Smiths, who live in Mechanicsville but previously resided in nearby Chamberlayne Farms, a visit to the market includes discovering locally produced crafts and tasting delicious banana pudding from All Dis Puddin’, a family business in SouthRichmond.
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“It saves us a few hours with the kids,” said Jason Smith, business manager of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership who, as a Culpeper County native, loves the market’s small-town vibe.
Sarah Hoffman, one of the market organizers, said: “We’re a small market – I think it’s much more accessible.”
Hoffman, 30, who has been a farmer for six years, organized the market with Andy Waller, owner of Dayum Jam, a jam producer who strongly supports the local LGBTQ community.
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She sells a variety of farm-to-table food products through her business, Twisted Carrot Farm and Market, which grows vegetables on a Hanover County farm for canned pickles, salsa and other produce. that it markets in Lakeside.
Hoffman lives in Church Hill in Richmond, but loves the youthful vibe of the traditionally working-class neighborhood along Lakeside Avenue.
“A lot of young people are moving here,” she said. “Housing prices are so crazy in the city right now. We’re definitely upping a more diverse crowd.”
The Makers Market debuted in March as a way to showcase local artisans and promote various values, from the African fabrics that South Richmond resident Shelly Green uses to make bags and d other products at CreativeAfro or “always vegan” deli packs that Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Yosef Mirakove Cohen sells at C’est Lä Vé.
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Cohen, who is preparing to move from Richmond to Lakeside, started her business out of a desire to turn her nine-year vegan background into something that would make the food lifestyle “more convenient and accessible” to a wider audience.
“It’s a healthy alternative to lunch,” he said.
The market features outdoor and indoor vendor stalls, music provided by a DJ and a variety of foods for people browsing – empanadas, gelato and several flavors of pudding produced by Chris and Jasmine Harrington in their kitchen on Hull Street in South Side.
“It’s always a good time,” Jasmine Harrington said, as her husband fidgeted to the music in his chair next to their 11-month-old son, Drew.
All Dis Puddin’ was born out of a question Chris Harrington posed in a Facebook post for a June 19 family celebration two years ago: Should he make banana pudding for the party?
The answer was a resounding yes, and now the online company offers puddings in 40 flavors, with names linked to black history – Yonce lemonade (for singer Beyonce), “Say Their Names” and others named after former first lady Michelle Obama and “Madam Vice President” Kamala Harris. And, yes, they have a vegan twist on the “classic banana pudding.”
The Harringtons aren’t the only sellers in the market who like to have fun with their product.
Jesse Gritzinger, 26, is a VCU graduate potter with a crafts degree and started her business, Throws Like a Girl, two years ago. Like its name, which plays on throwing pottery on a wheel, the work is whimsical, evoking mushrooms and other natural motifs.
“I just love the playfulness of mushrooms,” she said, pointing to handmade ceramic planters with macrame hangers made by fellow artist Erin Jameson. “I like to take something fancy and make it functional.”