SPARTA, NJ - During the summer of 2015, on a sunny Saturday morning, my wife Danielle and I visited the Sparta Farmers Market. As we walked along observing all the artisans and farmers selling their goods, it reminded me of the days working with my dad at his busy Greek specialty store in Fairview, NJ. I remember playing with the register buttons as a kid and lining up all my G.I. Joe’s on barrels of Greek olives.
As I got older, I went to the store every day after school to help my dad run the family business. I really enjoyed the time I spent working at my family’s store and I learned so much. That day walking through the Sparta Farmers Market, I envisioned selling my family’s Greek specialties there. My wife, eight months pregnant at the time, thought it was a great idea too and “The Greek Kitchen” was born, along with our first son just a few weeks later.
To prepare for opening our farmer’s market stand that September, Danielle and I spent hours recording recipes that my mom shared. Documenting some of these recipes proved to have some challenges, since my mom’s way of measuring entailed “a little of this” and “a good amount of that.” It did, however, make me reminiscent of the summers I spent in my small village in northern Greece. My cousins and I would watch my Yiayia -Greek for grandma, cook for all of us with so much love and pride, but apparently with very little actual measuring. I knew from an early age that the heart of any Greek family starts in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, my Yiayia is still in the village cooking for the entire family to this very day.
With the knowledge gained from my family’s culture along with Danielle’s background in marketing and business development, the Greek Kitchen took off. My son was just 6 weeks old when Danielle and I started our stand that September.
The Sparta Farmers Market is Northern New Jersey’s largest local farmers market. Over 20 local vendors and farmers participate each week. I was nervous and did not know what to expect but was excited to interact with the other vendors and our customers, giving them a small taste of Greece. Everyone was so excited with our products that we felt at home right away.
Each week, we prepare our favorite Greek food with the same pride as my Yiayia back in the village. We source our ingredients locally whenever possible and only use ingredients of the very highest quality. We believe that quality, fresh ingredients and simple recipes are the key to delicious and healthy food.
Although our menu varies from week to week, we always have Greek classics, such as Spanakopita (Spinach Pie), Baklava and Tzatziki. One of our top fan-favorites is our Spicy Feta dip, made with hot peppers and Feta cheese. Another product we sell out of weekly is our Bougatsa, locally dubbed “the Greek cannoli,” a light and fluffy custard pastry baked until golden brown, then topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. We also make a wide variety of other desserts, including Rizogalo (rice pudding) and Koulourakia (braided butter cookies), just to name a few.
Now, almost four years later, our business and aspirations have grown. In addition to our more traditional Greek specialties, we have added to our menu with our own creativity. For instance, we pack our Greek Quinoa Salad with fresh chopped vegetables, feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Our Chickpea Feta Salad and Traditional Greek Salad are also a huge hit. We even sell our own Greek Dressing and Marinade, made with the very best imported Greek Olive Oil.
Furthermore, we are now equipped to cater big and small events. We have catered everything from desserts at weddings to luncheons on a private plane! In addition to the Sparta Farmers Market, we have also had the privilege of being at other local events, such as the Sustainable Andover’s Winter’s Market, Octoberfest at Lake Mohawk Country Club and Sparta Day at Station Park.
As our menu and business expanded, so did our family and aspirations. In 2017, our youngest son joined our family. Then, in 2019, our family grew to include thirty-one chickens, six ducks, two goats and our awesome dog, Rocky. We bought a small farm, right here is Sparta! It’s always been a dream of ours to have a homestead.
Currently, we have a large garden, a small orchard and lots of room for our animals and kids. We went with the name “Kallo Farms,” which seemed appropriate since “kaló” means “good” in Greek and is also the beginning letters of our last name. Although we are still very much learning the art of farming, we aspire to one day provide most of the ingredients needed to make the products we bring to the farmers market. We love the “farm to table” concept, especially within the very same town!
We feel so blessed that our family can be a part of the Greek time-honored tradition of cooking and sharing with the community. We have had such success growing as a small local business and we cannot wait to incorporate our farm’s bounty into it. It brings us so much joy to see all our friends at the market every Saturday morning.
We love being a part of this community and getting to know our customers. We hope to see all of you at the Sparta Farmers Market, every Saturday through October from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the parking lot of Sparta Health and Wellness Center!