“I’m looking for mushrooms. Big ones,” said a market shopper to Elise as she overlooked the Holly Hill Homemade baked goods spread across the table covered in a deep blue table cloth.
Elise reached in a box behind her and pulled out two mushrooms.
“I have Portobellos and whites. $7 a pound. Ta da!” said Elise.
The woman walked away with one pound of some of the largest Portobello mushrooms that the Eastern Shore can produce – freshly picked earlier in the week. Holly Hill Homemade had given a customer exactly what she was looking for.
While watching the interactions, many just like the one mentioned above, take place at Holly Hills Homemade Goods, you’d get the feeling that Elise Koch Jett has been working at the farmer’s market since she was a youngin’. She’s a very welcoming woman who says hello to every shopper, smiles and chats with her customers, and is an individual whom everyone seems to know by name. Elise and Holly Hill Homemade Goods have become a must-visit at the market over the past few years.
It wasn’t too long ago that Elise realized that working a Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, job just wasn’t working for her. She was feeling uninspired and unsettled with her career. While baking some delicious treats in her kitchen one night, Elise came to realize that she’d be much happier doing something that she really enjoyed, really had a passion for, and really wanted to master. She started baking; not just for fun but as a career.
Elise didn’t just bake here and there; she baked nonstop, conquered some recipes, and created delicious treats. Elise took her baked goods to the Shore Fresh Farmers Market in Salisbury while continuing to work full-time so she could pay her bills. By spring of 2010, she had a stand at two more markets. Just another year later, with the help of her mother, Maggie, set up Holly Hill Homemade Goods at 5 different farmer’s markets 6 days a week.
Setting up and manning a booth at a Farmer’s Market 6 days a week sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but Elise spends most of her time in her kitchen. She also tends to her garden, teaches her two step-sons about raising animals, harvests fruits and vegetables, and tends to her family’s Parsonsburg, MD farm.
On top of all of those daily chores, Elise recently baked 100 individual cakes for her wedding. The Jett’s wanted each of their wedding guests to experience the delicious baked goods that Elise has spent so much time perfecting.
“Our wedding cakes were my blue-ribbon winning Ricotta Pound Cakes. Each was topped with either a fresh raspberry sauce, whipped cream, or a smooth chocolate sauce. One for each guest. They were delicious,” said the newlywed.
Elise’s Ricotta Pound Cake isn’t the only treat that Holly Hill Homemade Goods has won awards for. At the Wicomico County Fair this year, Holly Hill’s Fig Jam also won a first-place blue ribbon and the Strawberry Jam took home third-place, too.
Together, Elise and Maggie plan to expand their market presence and create more homemade goods. The duo has taught a canning class for Grow Berlin Green, created a 1-acre garden dedicated to the growth of produce and herbs needed for baking, incorporated family-fun into their farming rituals, and started raising ducks.
“Our sons really wanted pet ducks. So, now we have 50 ducks,” said Elise with a smile and a shrug.
“The boys love the ducks and I like their eggs. I sell their eggs at the markets,” she said while pointing to a carton laid out on the table in front of her.
The duck eggs are displayed in a bright pink cardboard carton at the Holly Hills Homemade booth. Their shells are grayish, speckled with light green dots, and smaller in size than chicken eggs. Duck eggs are very rich in protein and much thicker than chicken eggs. The duck eggs are a new addition for this seasons offering.
At the Berlin Farmer’s Market last Friday, the Holly Hill stand also featured an array of 15 different jams and jellies for sale – not including ones that had already sold out. Elise and Maggie sell many different kinds of jams and jellies. Some local favorites are Blueberry Jam (made with all local blueberries), Blueberry ‘n Honey Jam, Nectarine & Raspberry Preserves, Apple Butter, Apple Jelly, Pear Butter, Pear & Pineapple Jam, Hot Pepper Jam, Kwirky Kiwi Jam, Sangria Jam, and Fabulous Figgy Jam – just to name a few.
For sale are other items, too: fresh fruit pies, pet treats, gluten free snacks, local honey from Back Street Apiaries, and tea from Habanera Farms in Tyaskin, MD.
Plan a visit to see Elise and Maggie at the Holly Hill Homemade Goods stand at the following Eastern Shore farmer’s markets:
|Camden Avenue/Asbury Church
|Tuesdays, year-round – 2:30 to 6 pm
|Berlin Farmer’s Market
|Downtown Berlin, MD
|Wednesdays, April through October – 2 to 6 pm
|Salisbury Farmer’s Market
|Naylor Mill Road, Salisbury, MD
|Wednesdays, November/December – 3 to 6 pm
|Berlin Farmer’s Market
|Downtown Berlin, MD
|Fridays, year-round – 10 am to 3 pm
|River Walk Market
|Saturdays, May through November – 8 am to 1 pm
|Saturdays, April through December – 9 am to 2 pm
Photos by Ami Reist