As Black Swamp Artisanal Market prepares to open this spring with an exciting and colorful array of goods, including fresh cut flowers, aquaponically grown lettuces, herbs, leafy greens, hen and duck eggs, farm fresh bacon and ham, farm-raised tilapia, and more.
Black Swamp Farmstead owners, Justin and Tara Brant, are now the owners of Black Swamp Artisanal Market Dover as well. Steady vendors in the Capital City Farmers Market this summer, they were identified as ideal prospects to open a downtown “brick and mortar” store that would provide a broad variety of handcrafted items and farm fresh foods to the local community. The artisanal market concept was developed through Unlock the Block, an initiative that serves as a catalyst to reduce vacancy and engage and support entrepreneurs in the downtown business district, and specifically, first-floor commercial spaces on Loockerman and adjacent streets.
Diane Laird, Downtown Dover Partnership Executive Director and Co-Chair of the Unlock the Block initiative, has worked closely with Justin and Tara to make their dream become reality. “Small business owners are the foundation of every successful downtown community. Even amidst a world pandemic, Justin and Tara have been carefully planning and strategizing -discussing architecturals, finalizing contracts, working with vendors, selecting displays – all to ensure a high quality, successful venture next to the Bayard Pharmacy.”
A team of other resource partners that comprises Unlock the Block, including Cindy Small, Business Advisor for the Small Business Development Center, has also been providing technical assistance to the couple. “Small businesses are the cornerstone of Delaware’s economy and this marketplace creates the opportunity not only for Black Swamp Farmstead, but for several other small businesses that will make up this cooperative. It’s a win-win-win situation for the businesses, residents and Dover.” Will Grimes, Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator and NCALL/Restoring Central Dover representative, commented “Justin and Tara will be bringing to life a very unique retail/grocery concept and we know the community will be so enthused about the variety of goods they’ll be offering right here in the downtown.”
Justin is pleased to note that more than thirty vendors have indicated interest in selling their products at the market. “This team approach will allow us to bring high quality products all under one roof, and weather will certainly not affect operations as it sometimes does with the outdoor farmers markets.” He and Tara envision the market to have the look of one store, without individual vendor stalls, and each vendor will label their product with their company logo and information. The Brant’s will then merchandise the space with those products which will be displayed on custom wood furniture made by Fortitude Furnishings, a USMC Veteran owned/operated company in Georgetown, DE. The furniture itself will also be for sale.
Common to these types of markets are pop-up craft and food events that engage the community in learning about how the goods are made or grown. Tara said that they are very excited to be featuring the same concept in Dover’s new market and that she and their vendors will take turns in offering workshops and demos in both day and evening hours. “I make soaps and lotions from natural ingredients and will be pleased to share that process in the store,” commented Tara Brant. She and her husband also raise hens and pigs at their farmstead, sometimes both taking turns around the clock with newborn piglets.
Check Downtown Dover on Facebook for updates and details about the opening celebration, anticipated this spring.