By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
RIPLEY – The Bicycle Bread Company was born of Bonnie Garner’s love of baking, but became a cottage business through the Ripley Main Street Farmer’s Market.
Garner first brought her breads to the market last year, when she saw her stream of customers steadily grow.
The faithful clientele she’s developed virtually cleaned out her inventory within an hour-and-a-half when the 2013 market opened the first Saturday.
“Libbi (Bryant-Bennett) of Main Street is good about reaching out in the community, and she talked with me about baking breads,” Garner said. “I didn’t do anything the first year, but last year I came and it was successful, so I’m bringing out more this year.”
She has an extensive variety – loaf breads (country sourdough, multigrain); artisan breads (baguette, french bread, ciabatta, rustic round, herb bread); sweet breads (banana walnut, lemon poppyseed, zucchini, zucchini sweet potato, lemon blueberry, zucchini blueberry, fresh peach in season, orange walnut); muffins (blueberry, sweet potato, vanilla pear, banana walnut, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, glazed donut, lemon poppyseed); specialty breads (spinach, feta and sun-dried tomato, zucchini, red pepper and feta); and take-and-bake pizza dough.
“She makes these delicious pear muffins, and I’m addicted to them,” said Sherry Hill, who with her husband Gerald Hill, came from Falkner to pick up their favorites.
They told Garner about slicing and toasting some of the spinach, feta and sun-dried tomato bread, drizzling olive oil on it to make ham sandwiches.
“It was so good I felt like I was eating in a New York City deli,” Sherry Hill said.
Even with her wide selection Garner still likes to try something new.
“I’m working on a recipe for cinnamon muffins,” she said.
Garner’s baking interest began with a starter mix a friend shared with her some years ago and has grown from there. Members of Ripley First United Methodist Church have benefited from her efforts for many years with the sourdough bread she bakes for communion.
Garner and others selling at the Ripley Farmers Market are governed by the rules for certified farmers markets through the Mississippi Department of Health.
A new law – the Mississippi Cottage Laws Act of 2013 – to be implemented July 1, will allow Garner to bake and sell her breads from home, including taking special orders.
She’s likely to begin baking daily then, but for the market Garner spends all day Friday and into the early hours Saturday mornings baking for the Saturday farmers market.
“I bring everything as fresh as possible, nothing is frozen,” Garner said.
Bryant-Bennett’s help promoting her products has been a tremendous boost, Garner said, with Bryant-Bennett creating a brochure for her to distribute.
“I’ve really been reaching out trying to expand, and have had a lot of interest this year,” Bryant-Bennett said.
The market, which is open 7-11 a.m. each Saturday on the courthouse square in Ripley, also plans to bring craft vendors once a month, said Leigh Ann Johnson, who coordinates the market.
“We’re trying to branch out and I have a vendor who makes picture frames, pillows and other items,” Johnson said. She’s trying to elicit interest from other crafters as well.
Garner is thankful to the farmers market for giving her a start.
“If it weren’t for Main Street I wouldn’t be here,” Garner said. “I really appreciate all they’ve done to help me get started.”
At A Glance
BICYCLE BREAD COMPANY
WHEN: 7-11 a.m. Saturdays
WHERE: Ripley Main Street Farmers Market, Courthouse Square
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Bonnie Garner, owner/baker,
(662) 882-9261; bicycle firstname.lastname@example.org
RIPLEY MAIN STREET FARMERS MARKET
WHEN: 7-11 a.m. Saturdays
WHERE: Courthouse Square
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
(662) 512-0226; Facebook;www.mainstreet.ripley.ms