SPARTA, NJ – The Winter Farmers’ Market at Sparta features a variety of vendors. Lakeside Maple offers their unique trail mix at both the Sparta Farmers’ Market and the new winter market.

Mark and Lilly began selling their trail mix out of back packs at local music shows. The popularity led them to farmers markets, including Sparta. It is a company steeped in personal history. The recipe is based on the one Mark’s mother used to make for him.  The company is named for the road on which Mark lived when he was younger. 

“Mark got the idea to start the business after realizing all of his friends really loved the trail mix his mother made for him. People would say, ‘This is great, you should sell it,’ so we decided to give it a shot,” said Lilly. 

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They make the mix from a base of almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, pure maple syrup and a little salt.  They source the ingredients locally so the mixture may change based on product availability. 

“We get the syrup from a farm in Vermont,” Lilly explains.

The product is also naturally gluten free.

Lilly said, “We love to make our trail mix because it’s something we can really stand behind. We do it all from start to finish and we know it’s a quality product. It also really a great feeling to see how much people like it.

“Our customers buy from us because we offer a unique, versatile product that's also healthy. We do production weekly, twice a week when we are really busy, so the product is fresh and the customers can tell. You can eat it while on the trail or you can enjoy it while sitting at your desk. You can add it to yogurt or bake it in muffins. You can add it to oatmeal or sprinkle it on ice cream. Our trail mix has so many different uses that it really makes it something that everyone can enjoy.”

The couple bakes and packages in commercial kitchen in Belleville. “Everything is done by hand, so it is time consuming,” said Lilly. 

The reaction to the product has been strong. Families and friends are supportive.  “A lot of them think it is really cool. Some people can't believe we've made a business out of selling trail mix then they try it and they understand,” said Lilly.

They see the challenges that face most new businesses including keeping up with current demand while trying to expand and grow.  They sell the trail mix at farmers markets, craft shows and festivals in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.  They also sell their products online and at two Wholefoods stores.

“Our plans for growth are largely focused on increasing our wholesale business. We are hoping to have time over the winter to really dive into this. We'd also like to expand our product line before the start of summer 2015,” Lilly said.  “As eating local becomes more popular, I think NJ will become a real hotspot considering the amount of farms we have in our state, the proximity of consumers and affluence of the state.”

Finally Lilly added, “We hope our customers will stand by us while we learn and grow. We work really hard, love what we do and want to keep getting better and better.”

The Winter Farmers’ Market is held on Saturdays in the lower level of the Sparta Middle School from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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