Visits with Carmel Farmers Market Vendors
Writer and Photography // Janelle Morrison
Did you know that the Carmel Farmers Market committee is the only Farmers Market committee that practices regular visits to its vendors’ places of operation? The visits ensure that what is sold at the market is legitimately coming from professional and Indiana-based locations that practice humane and ethical business practices. These visits also build better relationships between the CFM committee members and the vendors. Committee members arrive as guests and leave as friends with plenty of product information to share with market-goers.
I was privileged to ride along with Deborah Schmitz, vice president at CFM, and Laura Clark, market volunteer and committee member, to visit four of the newer vendors and check out their farms, creamery and apiary that are located in Hamilton, Clinton and Tipton counties.
Eagle Creek Apiary
Our first visit of the day took us to Sheridan, Indiana, in Hamilton County where we visited with Jeff Cripe, owner of Eagle Creek Apiary. Cripe and his family have been keeping bees, harvesting honey and producing products of honey, such as raw honey, spun honey, pollen, beeswax candles, soaps and lip balms, since 2013. It is an incredible apiary with a most scenic location, complete with natural vegetation and Eagle Creek running through the property. Cripe shared his knowledge and passion for using honey and pollen for nutritional purposes and health remedies. “The true value of honey and bee pollen is nutritional,” Cripe said. “When it comes to honey and pollen, we’ve got two of the superfoods of all superfoods in the world because of their bioavailability.”
For more information, visit eaglecreekapiary.com.
Dandy Breeze Creamery
Afterward, we drove a few miles east to Dandy Breeze Creamery, also in Sheridan. Tom and Sally Waitt own and operate the creamery. They also produce some of the most delicious and nutritious milk that’s available on the market. It has been a family dream that came true in the summer of 2017. But it’s not without its challenges. With the onset of big box stores as well as pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk, traditional dairy farms and creameries are becoming obsolete. Farmers like the Waitts rely on selling their nutritious milk to local businesses and restaurants as well as growing a loyal customer base out of local farmers markets.
“Every milk that you see in the grocery store has had the cream taken off,” Tom explained. “Then they have to add vitamins back in because all of the vitamins are in the cream. So this [Dandy Breeze milk] is high in vitamin D from the sunshine. It’s high in calcium and all your vitamins. It’s the way milk used to be.”
For more information on Dandy Breeze Creamery, visit dandybreezedairy.com.
Hoosier Wagyu LLC
Next on our tour, we drove up to Clinton County where I met Kyle Shepherd, owner at Hoosier Wagyu LLC in Frankfurt, Indiana. He’s the guy responsible for the delectable steaks and ground beef that market-goers go crazy over. Shepherd takes great pride in breeding and raising American-style Wagyu beef that is processed in Indiana. The Wagyu cows happily graze on alfalfa, clover and sorghum grass that grows on Shepherd’s farm. When asked where folks can pick up or enjoy his Wagyu beef, he replied, “We are at the Carmel and Zionsville Farmers Markets at the moment,” Shepherd said. “The Ulen Country Club in Lebanon runs our burger, and The Friendly Tavern in Zionsville runs our burger on occasion also.”
For updates and additional information, follow Hoosier Wagyu LLC on Facebook.
Lastly, we drove over to Tipton County to Groomsville Popcorn in Sharpsville, Indiana. Jacob Baird and his family have 145 acres of soybean and corn and 10 acres of non-GMO popcorn on the family’s fifth-generation farm. They are currently growing five varieties of popcorn, and they will be adding organically grown popcorn to their line in the near future. Jacob’s parents, Mark and Linda, were gracious hosts and took us on a tour of the fields and the immaculate production area/commercial kitchen.
Market-goers will recognize other members of the Baird family. Allen Baird, owner of My Dad’s Sweet Corn, is Mark’s brother. The Baird brothers grew up on the family’s Hoosier Homestead Farm.
“The home farm, the Century Farm, is north of Tipton,” Mark shared. “It’s been in our family since the 1880s. That’s where my other brother Leon lives. Allen’s farm is probably close to being a Century Farm as well through another branch of the family.”
For more information, visit groomsvillepopcorn.com.
Be sure to follow these and other Carmel Farmers Market vendors on Facebook and visit carmelfarmersmarket.com for information on all this season’s vendors.