Popular Harriman baker poised to make farmers market comeback

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By Cindy Simpson

Baked goods are an old favorite making a comeback this year to Harriman Farmers Market.

Mary Beth Banner Crass, who sold baked goods at the market in 2008 when she owned Utopia Cafe in downtown Harriman, will have her baked pastries, muffins, pies and cinnamon rolls when the market opens for the season on June 1 at Harriman Riverfront Park.

“Last year, Tennessee changed the law where you can have a domestic kitchen and sell at the markets,” she said last week. “I’m going to do a lot of breads. I’ll do whole wheat and brioche (what is sometimes known as Sally Lunn bread),” Crass said. “Bread always went so fast.”

She’s also planning on doing an English Muffin bread.

“It is really good,” she added.

Other baked goods Crass plans to offer include her popular cinnamon rolls, scones and tarts.

She may sell pies and cakes. She likes to make pocket pies, single serve pastries that are baked instead of fried.

Crass remembers the work that went into preparing for the farmer’s market each weekend.

“I started baking Friday night and stayed up all night Friday night, just baking through straight to farmers market,” she said.

Her son, Rain loves that she’s baking again.

“I started doing them again to get my recipes down. He’s loving it,” Crass said.

Crass said she decided to do both Saturday and Wednesday market days for the first time.

“I haven’t decided what I’ll do on Wednesdays  yet,” Crass said.

“I’m thinking about pies and cakes,” she added. “Wednesday may be more of a pie day. Those are things people can take home for that night.”

She and her husband Matt may sell blueberries and wild blackberries.
She also hopes to start growing herbs to sell.

“So many are perennials,” Crass said.

In addition to the return of this favorite vendor, new things are happening for the Harriman Farmers Market.

The market received a state grant to build a pavilion, or covered structure with space for vendors.

Harriman City Councilman Ken Mynatt heads up the farmers market.
He said the pavilion can be used for other events in Harriman Riverfront Park.

“It will have a stage area and will also have a food prep area in it,” Mynatt said.

The grant for the pavilion is from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Rural Farmer Market Capital Development Grant program.

“If we can get the Department of Agriculture to do food demonstrations, that would be great,” Mynatt added.

Expansions also in the works include more vendors — and a bigger selection.

“We are trying to introduce people with other products (like) wood crafters — as long as they produce the items themselves,” Mynatt said.

Artists like photographers and painters are also encouraged to sell their quality works.

Mynatt’s also looking to have more music at the market than before.

“We are looking for a musical group a couple of Saturdays a month,” Mynatt said.

Items sold at the farmers market traditionally includes peas, green beans, peppers, onions, corn, tomatoes, berries, potatoes, fruit, okra, squash and eggs.

Someone typically sells watermelon during its season.  

Produce must be locally raised by the vendor selling it, with no resellers allowed.