RVA Farmers Market Vendors: THE NEW CLASS

 MaloKin popped amaranth pistachio brittle

MaloKin popped amaranth pistachio brittle

MaloKin (SOTJ and West End)

Leo Salinas, sister Leticia and Leo’s fiancee Molly launched MaloKin at the beginning of this year. It was one of a few business ideas Leo wanted to explore, and when sister/pastry chef Leticia got on board, Leo was ready to go. Their treats and brittle come in a variety of flavors with one thing in common -- popped amaranth as the main ingredient.

A nutrient-dense, protein-filled superfood, amaranth is a grain that Leo first enjoyed while visiting the Riviera Maya. Leo and Leticia produce their recipes from a VDACS-approved home kitchen but will soon need to increase production to meet demand from two farmers markets and retail accounts.

“It puts a smile on our face to see someone try a sample and say ‘oh, wow,’ and then they bring their friends over and tell them they must try our product,” says Leo Salinas. “Many people have not heard about amaranth, so we educate them on its nutritional values.”

“In my heart I know that if we can please such a knowledgeable and health-conscious crowd, while at the same time pleasing my 6 year old, then we have a great product,” says Salinas. “We look forward to growing the business out of RVA.”

RaccoonFoxy (St. Stephens)

Raccoons and foxes are both scavengers and that, according to Raccoon Foxy owner Anne Swinson, is how she chose the name of her gluten-free, sugar-free baking business. Raccoon Foxy will be a regular vendor at the St. Stephen’s farmers market, where Swinson will offer her dietarily friendly baked goods. Swinson started pursuing gluten-free AND sugar-free options when she realized that she and her husband needed both. “We're out to help folks stop scavenging and start living footloose and fancy SUGAR-free,” she says.

When I ask Swinson how she approaches baking without such essential ingredients she replies, “Very carefully!” adding, “It's quite the scientific challenge. We use blends of high quality nut 'flours', fibers, and protein powders. Plus, our only sweeteners are organic, non-GMO erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit. We want to offer folks a truly transparent product made with the cleanest, top notch products out there.” Swinson grew up in a baking household and is a self-identified foodie who enjoys working on a concept as long as it takes to make it delicious.

 Wild Earth Farms Garden Spice Sauerkraut

Wild Earth Farms Garden Spice Sauerkraut

Wild Earth Farms (Birdhouse Market, SOTJ, and St. Stephen's)

With devout followings at both the Birdhouse and St. Stephen's farmers market, Wild Earth Farms will add the South of the James market to their list this season. Owners Grant Collier and Bri McCarthy describe themselves as "Lacto-cultivators and purveyors of fermented foods." Their line-up of raw, probiotic, vegetable ferments includes krauts and hot sauces, as well as seasonal offerings like a jalapeño chow-chow and, when eggplants are available, an aubergine spread.

Grant and Bri are committed to sustainability--composting their waste, taking glass jar deposits, and sourcing produce as responsibly as possible. And educating the public on the benefits of naturally preserved food is a clear mission of their business. 

Look for Wild Earth Farms' kimchi shots (which they boldly refer to as Hangover Cures,) and, while you're at it, grab a jar of their vegan kimchi, and add the juice to your best new Bloody Mary recipe because once you've cured that hangover, it's time to start all over again!

 The menu at Empanadas Market - bet you can't eat just one.

The menu at Empanadas Market - bet you can't eat just one.

Empanadas Market (SOTJ)

Clara and Juan Ignacio Dutari launched Empanadas Market late last year and made their first market appearance at the Winter South of the James Market. Now, they’re ready for the big show. The Dutari’s sell their empanadas frozen, with simple bake-at-home directions on the box--$15 for a half dozen, $27 per dozen. Flavors include beef, chicken, steak, chorizo and cheese, spinach and ricotta, and (my favorite) plain old cheese.

Also look for Empanadas Market’s chimichurri, a zippy blend of fresh parsley, oregano and red wine vinegar that makes a welcome addition on everything from grilled skirt steak to, you know, bread.

Scuffletown Creamery (SOTJ, Chesterfield Farmers Market)

“We are a completely from-scratch ice cream business located here in the city of Richmond,” explains Pastry Chef/Owner Alexa Pinzon. “By “from scratch,” I mean we make our own ice cream base and churn it in our machine as individual small batches, make all of our cookies and our sauces for each sandwich. We have so much fun coming up with new flavors and cookies for people to try at the market.”

Pinzon has plenty of professional pastry experience, including hotel and restaurant experience in Charleston, SC; as well as, most recently, Shindigz and The Governor’s Mansion. This year, Pinzon plans to offer a variety of flavors of her ice cream sandwiches, including favorites like the OG (chocolate chip cookies, caramel and vanilla ice cream), The Oatmeal Cream Pie, and seasonal flavors like the Strawberry Cobbler IC Sandwich and a German Chocolate variety with a chocolate ice cream, swirled with coconut and pecan filling. 

“We're gearing up for our summer season after taking a 6 month hiatus. Coincidentally our daughter just turned 6 months old!" says Pinzon. "We are so excited to be joining the SOJ market this year!”