The official opening of The Market by Shady Brook Farm at Delaware Valley College , or “The Market” for short, was in early April. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave Fleming, Jr., general manager of both the DelVal market in Doylestown and Shady Brook Farm’s market in Yardley.
A little history lesson. Shady Brook Farm started in 1913. Owner Dave Fleming, Sr., is an alumni of Delaware Valley College, and ran a traditional wholesale farming business until the mid-1980s.
“In 1984, we started seeing the writing on the wall,” explains the younger Fleming. The family realized that retail – not wholesale – was the way the business was going, and opened a farm market. Fleming took over the retail store when he graduated from college in 1990, while his brother, Paul, stayed on the production, or farming, side of the business.
In the mid-90’s, Fleming, Jr. decided it was time to go the next step. He wanted to do prepared foods in the market, but needed permission to install sewer and water to do so. Not always easy to accomplish in Bucks County. Fast forward twelve years and Shady Brook opened a new store in 2004, complete with kitchen, deli and bakery.
Next chapter. Delaware Valley College, known locally as “DelVal,” has been educating farmers, horticulturists and other ag types since 1896. (It also does more than teach agriculture these days. US News & World Report just ranked it as one of the best comprehensive colleges in the country). In 2004, the college, which had a modest farm market, built and opened a beautiful new market and garden center on Lower State Road. But things didn’t pan out and the market closed.
Determined to make it work, the college looked at other avenues. They hired a farm market consultant. He gave them the names of thirty markets to visit, plus the five he would recommend to run DelVal’s. One of which was Shady Brook.
Why did they choose Shady Brook? Don Feldscher, special assistant to DelVal President Dr. Joseph Brosnan, explains that Shady Brook had the right “feel.”
“They talked first about education, and using students to work in the market,” says Feldscher. The college also liked that Shady Brook was committed to using college produce and products.
Fleming also points to Shady Brook’s experience. “A lot of places do a farm market well, or a garden center well,” he explains, “it’s difficult to keep focus on both sides. We’ve had that experience.” Shady Brook also knew a thing or two about running successful events, as they have been doing for years at their Yardley farm. In addition, they are an Agway dealer, and sell all kinds of garden products, from pansies to trees.
But enough history. Let’s talk food! While the interior of the market hasn’t changed much – it’s still crisp, clean and bright – there are some notable changes, both out front and behind the scenes.
Prepared Foods. Shady Brook has hired two chefs and a pastry chef to run the kitchen, and they’re already turning out great food. Everything from breakfast sandwiches, to hot and cold sandwiches (hoagies, paninis, cheese steaks, burgers, hot sides), to soup, to hot entrees and sides for dinner.
The kitchen is still developing its “signature,” says Fleming. “We want to have a ‘country feel.’ We don’t want to get too high-end for a farm market.” The only goal, he says, is that it has to be “exceptional.” Shady Brook has brought many of its signature products from Yardley – like its guacamole, pico de gallo, honey, and peanut butter, as well as a whole line of gourmet preserves and canned goods. (They also plan to produce food in the DelVal kitchen to sell down in Yardley.)
Bakery. “Yum,” is all I can say. Pastries, cookies, pies, cakes and bread. And a full coffee bar to go with it.
Produce. A wide selection of both regular and organic produce that will only get better as we move into spring and summer. Produce from both the college and Shady Brook Farm will fill the shelves. Look for the college’s tomatoes soon, then asparagus and field greens in May from Shady Brook.
Meat and dairy. Pork and beef raised at the college, Eberly’s organic chicken, Griggstown Market’s chicken pot pies, to name a few. Deli cold cuts by Dietz & Watson and Boar’s Head are also available by the pound. Dairy items too, including organic products.
Specialty items. The market carries a good selection of DiBruno’s (from South Philly) cheeses and salamis, as well as many gourmet grocery items. Shady Brook’s own guacamole is, indeed, “exceptional.”
Ice cream. Okay, so I saved the best for last. Those of you familiar with Shady Brook Farm probably also know Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream. Dave Adami, a childhood friend of Dave Fleming, Jr., started his ice cream company in March 2008.
Made from 100 percent super premium Jersey cow milk, from independently owned Pennsylvania dairy farms, it comes in, oh, about 50 or 60 flavors, including Billionaire Chocolate, Toasted Coconut and Graham Cracker. Dave uses Shady Brook produce – like raspberries, strawberries and peaches – in the ice cream whenever he can. At the market you’ll see the ice cream sold under the Del Val Creamery brand. Grab some and have a seat in the spacious eating area inside the market.
Coming soon – wine. Rose Bank Winery, another Shady Brook Farm offshoot, will be opening a kiosk in the market as soon as the paperwork goes through.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something – so you’ll have to drive over to the market and check it out for yourself. Just be sure to leave with some guacamole.
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