Producer of the Week: Southern Berks Bee Keepers

This week, we welcome Southern Berks Bee Keepers back to the market. You’ll want to pay them a visit and pick up a jar of their natural honey.

Here’s why…

A research study released in September of this year in the Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences highlighted the significant health values of natural honey. In particular, the study’s authors cited the therapeutic use of natural honey to enhance dental health, treat eye disorders, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The researchers also write about “honey as a natural cancer ‘vaccine’” based on its anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant qualities.

Adults aren’t the only ones who can benefit from natural honey’s preventative effects and healing abilities. The authors of the study also acknowledge the health benefits of natural honey on children. They state, “Some studies have shown that honey-nourished infants have improved memory and enhanced growth, as well as being less anxious and showing better performance as they grow.”

So, while you may have only considered natural honey a wonderful sweetener for your tea, think again. It’s a valuable complementary and alternative medicine for a wide number of health concerns.

* Ajibola, A. Novel insights into the health importance of natural honey. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. September 2015; 22(5): 7-22. Available from Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA.

Producer of the Week: Pure Scents Candle Company

Margaret Mace talks to a customer about her candles at the market. Photo courtesy of Copper Lantern Pictures.

Margaret Mace talks to a customer about her candles at the market. Photo courtesy of Copper Lantern Pictures.

When is less actually more? The answer is when it comes to candle making. Margaret Mace’s 100% soy wax candles are tremendously popular among customers for what they don’t contain – namely, phthalates, dyes, and UV stabilizers. Less of these things means a more natural product.

“My products are naturally scented and burn clean,” said Margaret, owner of Pure Scents Candle Company in West Chester, Pa. “Because I use soy wax and natural fragrance oils, they do not emit carbon or creosote in your home. The fragrance will not bother people who suffer from allergies, asthma or who get headaches from scent.”

Margaret didn’t grow up expecting to be a candle maker. Instead, she worked for 25 years in finance before looking to make a change. “I bought Pure Scents in 2007 from a woman who started it in her kitchen,” Margaret said. “I was a huge fan of the product. When I heard it was for sale, I bought it!”

It was then that Margaret learned about candle making and operating a candle business – combining both her creativity and her finance savvy.

“My favorite part of Pure Scents is actually making the candles,” Margaret shared. “It’s something I do alone in order to concentrate on the process, and it’s therapeutic for me to stir and pour while getting some great aromatherapy.”

As Margaret learned more about candle making, she began to use more natural ingredients in her products. “My customers love the natural look of the candles because they are not dyed,” Margaret said. “They love the way the candles scent their houses so naturally, and that they burn for a very long time.”

Customers also enjoy Margaret’s unique scent combinations and funny candle names. Names like “The Elves are Drunk…Again” draw customers to Margaret’s booth at the UM Farmers Market and entice them to take a deep sniff.

Margaret feels it’s important to use only American-made supplies in her candle making process. “It’s not easy,” she said, “but I am proud to offer a product made in America, while supporting American manufacturing.”

Margaret’s 9 oz. glass tumbler candles are made from a Libby highball glass. She tells customers that once they finish burning their candles, they can wash the tumbler out in hot soapy water and run it through the dishwasher. Afterwards, they can use it as a drinking glass.

For Margaret, the candle making business keeps her busy. “Every part of the business is done by me. If I’m not selling, I’m pouring, demoing, marketing, communicating, pitching my product to wholesale accounts, paying bills, responding to e-mails, and more,” she said. It’s not often that Margaret has the time to hand deliver her candles to customers, though many might expect her to do so because of her high-quality customer service.

Margaret also knows that price increases can be difficult for customers to understand; however, it’s a requirement for her to stay in business. “My candles are still priced less at farmers markets than at retail stores because it’s my way of supporting markets,” Margaret said. “My customers know that they can get a great deal on my candles by coming to the markets I participate in. When I finish doing markets for the season, they can find my candles at several great retail locations.”

Since Opening Day at the UM Farmers Market, Margaret has been a big part of our Upper Merion community and our family of producers. “I have had the pleasure of getting to know our great customer base. They are friendly and informed – they read the newsletter! They are a very loyal group of shoppers,” she said.

Margaret also gives two thumbs up to the UMFM volunteers, many of whom have been with the market since Opening Day. The live music and picnic tables are a plus, too, according to Margaret. “They encourage neighbors to sit and chat over coffee. This helps build community in a positive way,” she said.

Customers can see the vast number of candle scents available on Margaret’s website. Because she has limited space at the market, she brings only the most popular items at the best value. Margaret’s 6 oz. tins and 9 oz. glass tumblers are fan favorites. “The glass candles are the best value,” Margaret stated. “They sell in stores for over $20, but I sell them for $15 each or two for $25 at markets. You can’t beat that value!”

PRODUCER SPECIAL: This Saturday, Margaret is bringing a new product – wax tarts – to the market. Stop by to receive a free wax tart pack with any purchase of $20. Also, ask Margaret to tell you about her new holiday scents!