With so much talk of supply chain problems, product shortages and shipping delays, finding locally-made holiday gifts has even more appeal than it already had. There’s locally-run brick-and-mortar stores that have lots of options, and, best of all, you can walk out with it on the spot.
But there’s also those who make up the “gig economy;” people creating, making and selling all manner of crafts and gifts as a secondary income stream.
And, Maryland has a wealth of farms selling items made from their own food and fiber crops.
Here, we focus on four categories — food, drink, sweets and scents — in hopes of getting the gift-giving ideas flowing, without a drop of stress.
During this season of giving, local farmers and growers are still supplying much welcomed goods to fill fridge and freezer and treat taste buds.
Pop’s Old Place in Hurlock offers USDA Grass fed Beef & Lamb plus non GMO-fed pastured pork and eggs, with butcher items sold by the cut at the farm store.
According to owner Darlene Goehringer, customized butcher baskets are in the works. One example might include a breakfast basket featuring bacon, scrapple, sausage, eggs, and a loaf of sourdough and a jar of apple butter. A barbecue basket could offer burger patties, sausage grillers, and pork ribs.
Gift certificates will also be available for food products or one-on-one classes on bread baking (sourdough, yeast rolls, biscuits), pizza making (dough, sauce, etc.) plus soups and stews.
For more information call 410-924-1646 or visit http://www.PopsOldPlace.com/.
After getting repeated requests for holiday certificates, Quail Covey Farm near Queen Anne is offering gift cards this year. People can decide the amount, and recipients can choose to redeem for burger, roasts, and steaks, or put towards custom pre-ordered split side, side, or whole.
“Last year a lady got 50 pounds of burger for her son’s family for Christmas, later her daughter in law told me it was the best gift they’d received, lasting all year,” QCF’s owner recalled.
For more information call 410-924-5654 or visit https://www.facebook.com/quailcoveyfarm/.
Wye Heights is a family-run farm on Talbot County’s Wye River featuring Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. This year owners Timothy and Lisa Wyman are offering holiday gift boxes stocked with their pasture raised lamb products through Dec. 18.
Their website, www.wyeheights.com allows purchasers to select from four unique boxes containing ground lamb or a mix of prime cuts.
Gift packages and other orders can be picked up regularly from 2 to 3 each Wednesday or by special arrangement.
The Choptank Oyster Company located on Dorchester County’s Choptank River, is the oldest and longest continually operated oyster farm in Maryland, producing an average of 1 to 2 million oysters per year and can supply your loved ones with gift orders.
According to Kevin McClaren, “People can call the farm and arrange gift certificates to be e-mailed or simply order online and we will deliver the oysters to the recipient.”
For more information, visit https://www.choptanksweets.com/ or call 410-221-7900.
Krista Scudlark of Milton, Del., took a homegrown hobby of turning backyard fruits into jams and jellies into a thriving business. Now operating out of a commercial kitchen with two assistants to help with packing orders, Scudlark still simmers all the sweet spreads herself, with a growing array of flavors from drunken monkey jam (made with Dogfish Head rum) to key lime jelly, and a locally sourced favorite, beach plum jam, as well as festive holiday cranberry orange.
Another holiday touch Scudlark has added includes special fabric tops with Christmas and even Hanukah designs.
As inventory varies daily, she recommends that people call at 302-684-0485 or email at email@example.com to place an order. “We ship or people can pick up,” she added. For more information visit http://www.backyardjamsandjellies.com/
There are hundreds of wineries and craft breweries throughout the state, each an option for gift giving for holiday get-togethers.
Judy Crow, owner of Crow Vineyard and Winery in Kennedyville said their gift packages have been an option for years. Customers peruse their on-farm store with products like cheese, meat, and, of course wine, and they will pull it all together to make the gift.
“We’ve done that for years,” Crow said. “The idea is you pick whatever you want and we’ll wrap it up for you.”
Another option at Crow is custom labels. What was once reserved for groups or events, Crow said they can generate personalized labels on a selection of their half-sized bottles with the gift recipient’s name or holiday message.
“That’s a cute little gift and it’s personalized,” she said.
Crow said they are fortunate to have had strong sales through the pandemic and attributes it to people seeing the value in local products.
“I think people are appreciating that you can get stuff locally.”
To locate other Maryland wineries and breweries, marylandwine.com and marylandbeer.org are great resources.
This holiday season, several mid-Shore confectioners are offering cocoa bomb creations close to home.
Although Storm and Daughters Ice Cream on Dover Street in Easton has built a reputation on scooping up frozen delights, they’re also warming hearts and tummies with cocoa and coffee bombs complete with gift mug.
According to Cecile Storm, they’re lovingly hand crafted in house, from tempered chocolate with delicately placed decorations, by Sara Bishoff, the Storm daughters’ own Nana. Among the wide variety of colors and flavors are white chocolate peppermint, apple cider, and caramel, as well as several coffee bombs with chocolate and white chocolate shells, plus Storm’s favorite, a caramel shell containing instant coffee and powered creamer inside. While they can be dropped into hot water or milk, her husband enjoys them in black coffee for a turbo-charged cuppa, she added.
A specially commissioned “bombs away!” mug created by local artist Maggi Sarfaty is available.
“The bombs definitely make great hostess gifts, secret Santa, and stocking stuffers,” Storm added.
Morgan Linthicum, owner of The Market at Church Creek in Dorchester County, began deep diving into cocoa bomb creation by popular demand. “I had a few customers come in last year that asked for them so I decided to teach myself and they have been a huge success! I always listen to my customers, whatever they want I try to make!”
Special Christmas flavors include peppermint and caramel, as well as the classic white and milk chocolate, she added.
The shop, featuring Linthicum’s sweet confections and country décor, located at 1963 Church Creek Road, Cambridge, MD 21613. Linthicum recommends coming in to discuss order needs or shooting her a message at https://www.facebook.com/TheMarketChurchCreek.
“I was always that little girl in the kitchen wanting to help my grandma and mom make anything, especially loving dessert because of the ability to be creative! Making things beautifully delicious is my specialty,” Linthicum said. “After college I supplemented my income by offering my chocolates to businesses as thank you gifts for clients and employees — now its my full-time job!
After starting the farmstead goats milk soap business Fresh N Fancy with her husband in 2013, Jackie Johnson said when the pandemic hit, shutting down shows that generated a lot of business, she figured she’d get caught up on what orders they had and get a job off the farm.
“I never caught up,” she said.
The Johnsons keep a large product menu on their website, freshnfancy.net, including 22 soap bars, 15 lotions, six foaming soaps and a special line of seasonal soaps, going for online and wholesale sales.
While their soaps, lotions and lip balms get shipped all over the country, Johnson said the local business is special.
“I feel the love. I feel like that’s part of this surge,” she said. “Especially with COVID, people are more interested in where things come from and how things are made.”