Farmers Market offers new foods, gadgets


Sept. 25, 2012 at 4:25 a.m.

Rebecca Graber stands in front of her display of jellies as she talks about her new high-tech adaption to her stand at the Victoria Farmers Market.

Rebecca Graber stands in front of her display of jellies as she talks about her new high-tech adaption to her stand at the Victoria Farmers Market.   Kathleen Duncan for The Victoria Advocate

Rebecca Graber's stand at the Victoria County Farmers Market is a tribute to all things old-fashioned.

The breads come from freshly-ground flour. The egg noodles are made from scratch. Even her clothing, a long skirt and head covering worn in respect of her Amish upbringing, harken back to an earlier time.

And then she pulls out her iPhone.

The Yoakum resident, and owner of Mamaw's Kitchen, recently began accepting credit and debit payments for her sales at the market.

With help from Square, an app that boasts a card reader plugged into the phone, all it takes is a quick card swipe. Minutes later, the charge appears on her bank account and a receipt goes to the customer's phone.

It's something she said surprises visitors every time.

"Some people just totally break out laughing and crack up," she said with a chuckle. "They don't expect it."

Card readers aren't the market's only new feature.

In addition to the peanut brittle, cakes and more that deck Graber's tables, Big Red and Dr Pepper jellies join the mix. It was something customers asked for, she said, and a quick modification to her grape jelly recipe proved successful.

"I didn't know for sure how it would work, but it did," she said. "And people have been buying it."

Down the way, Noah Thompson sat in a wooden rocking chair inside his trailer. The Thomaston farmer replaced the fruits and vegetables he typically sells with handmade wooden toys, furniture, mantles and more.

Thompson, who used to build cabinets, said he enjoys working with wood and wanted to offer up something different.

"Everybody seems to like what I make, but money seems to be tight now," he said regarding sales. "I think it will pick up closer to Christmas."

A fair share of time and work goes into the projects, he said, but it's a labor of love.

"I like doing it," he said. "I wouldn't do it otherwise."

New items aside, shoppers still grabbed up the foods that are longtime market staples.

Jo Yancey and her 4-year-old grandson, Trenton Yancey, purchased honey, tomatoes and cucumbers during their Tuesday excursion. Yancey, who said she visits the market from time to time, said she had plans to mix up a picante sauce with the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, it was the homemade confections that drew Victoria resident Gayle Franklin in. She said she often purchases noodles, banana bread and red beet jelly for her family, but said Graber's apple butter was a new favorite.

"It makes your mouth just want to dance," she said with a grin.

As for Graber, she said she's glad she made her high-tech leap. She's made sales she probably wouldn't have otherwise, she said, and customers seem glad for the option to pay via credit card.

And, although she said some other vendors have jokingly told her they felt pressured to follow suit, she advised them not to worry.

"I just tell them, 'I take their cards so they have more cash to spend on you,'" she said. "And I really do think it's worked that way."



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