The summer heat had relented and the rain hadn’t arrived, so Jason and Jana Smith took their family for a Sunday stroll through Lakeside’s Local Makers Market.
Emphasis on the local.
The monthly Sunday market features local businesses selling much more than fresh produce, even though it’s housed in the Lakeside Farmers Market in the increasingly diverse Lakeside neighborhood in Henrico County.
“Very artsy,” said Jana Smith, pushing the 1-year-old in the stroller while the 7-year-old and 4-year-old followed along.
For the Smiths, who live in Mechanicsville but previously resided in the nearby Chamberlayne Farms neighborhood, a visit to the market includes browsing through locally produced crafts and sampling the delectable banana pudding from All Dis Puddin’, a family-run company in South Richmond.
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“It buys us a couple of hours with the kids,” said Jason Smith, a business manager at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership who, as a Culpeper County native, likes the market’s small-town feel.
Sarah Hoffman, one of the market’s organizers, said, “We’re a small market — I think it’s a lot more approachable.”
Hoffman, 30, who has been farming for six years, organized the market with Andy Waller, owner of Dayum This is My Jam, a jam producer strongly supportive of the local LGBTQ community.
She sells a variety of farm-to-table food products through her business, Twisted Carrot Farm and Market, which grows vegetables at a farm in Hanover County for canned pickles, salsa and other products she markets in Lakeside.
Hoffman lives in Church Hill in Richmond, but loves the youthful vibe of the traditionally blue-collar neighborhood along Lakeside Avenue.
“A lot of young people are moving out here,” she said. “Housing prices are so crazy in the city right now. We are definitely growing a more diverse crowd.”
The Makers Market debuted in March as a way to showcase local crafters and promote diverse values, whether it’s the African fabrics that South Richmond resident Shelly Green uses to make bags and other products at CreativeAfro or the “always vegan” charcuterie packs that Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Yosef Mirakove Cohen sells at C’est Lä Vé.
Cohen, who is preparing to move from Richmond to Lakeside, created the business out of his desire to turn his experience as a vegan for the past nine years into something that would make the dietary lifestyle “more convenient and accessible” to a broader audience.
“It’s a healthy alternative to the Lunchable,” he said.
The market features both outdoor and indoor vendor booths, music provided by a DJ and a variety of foods for people browsing — empanadas, gelato and multiple flavors of pudding produced by Chris and Jasmine Harrington at their kitchen on Hull Street in South Side.
“It’s always a good time,” Jasmine Harrington said as her husband shimmied to the music in his chair next to their 11-month-old son, Drew.
All Dis Puddin’ grew from a question Chris Harrington posed in a Facebook post for a family Juneteenth celebration two years ago: Should he make banana pudding for the party?
The answer was a resounding yes, and now the online business features puddings of 40 flavors, with names tied 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 variation on the “classic banana pudding.”
The Harringtons aren’t the only vendors at the market who like to have fun with their product.
Jesse Gritzinger, 26, is a potter who graduated from VCU with a crafts degree and started her business, Throws Like a Girl, two years ago. Like the name, which plays off the throwing of pottery on a wheel, the work is whimsical, evoking mushrooms and other natural motifs.
“I just like the playfulness of the mushrooms,” she said, gesturing toward handmade ceramic planters that come with macrame hangers made by fellow artist Erin Jameson. “I like taking something whimsical and making something functional out of it.”