Newton business takes local to heart

Lindsay Robins
Staff Writer

From one town to the next, the shop local movement has made an impact on how small businesses operate in their communities. The movement encourages buyers to spend money with small businesses, in turn supporting prosperity within their communities. With their simple tagline, "Local. Just Local.", a Newton business is taking that movement to heart.

The Sunflower Market at Catawba Farms offers goods from local farmers and makers. So local that all goods sold at the Sunflower Market were grown or crafted within 15 miles of the farm. Located in the former tasting room, the market is nestled in the middle of the old Sigmon Farm property, now known as Catawba Farms. With views of vineyards, barns, and pastures, the market gives full meaning to the farmers' market term.

Designed as a cooperative market, goods are not sold at wholesale mark up but at prices set by the businesses represented. The market collects only 10% of sales with 90% going directly to the farmers and makers. "Supporting the farms and craftspeople in the region, in the area, has been a main goal of ours", explained one of the owners, Michael Waltuch. "This is a year-round market. Some of our participants have the ability to grow food year-round. We have the penny candy for the kids, everybody becomes a kid around the candy. We have all of our wine and cider available for retail."

Among the local farmers and makers, you will find offerings from Honey Tree Farm, Brandie's Butterflies, Windfell Farm, Crouching Hippo Farm, Rock Barn Beef, Roaming Bee Apiary & Candle Works, Organized Mess, Nutmeg Bakery, Blue Goat Dairy, Amilla Acres, Theron's Wood Creations, and Catawba Farms. Seasonally appropriate meats and vegetables, honey, wine, coffee, soap, lotion, and handcrafted items are offered year-round, with new inventory regularly arriving.

The Sunflower Market is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. You'll know you have found the right place when you are greeted by a life-size painting of sunflowers created by local artist, Susan Wicklin. The painting is located beside the front door of the market. While perusing the goods, customers can mingle with the farm's residents, including peacocks, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, goats, donkeys and everyone's favorite, Major Tom the horse. A few of the residents have free reign of the farm, while the others can be found in the surrounding pastures. Another favorite at The Sunflower Market is Phyllis Deese, owner of the former Phyllis' Crafts that was located in downtown Newton for many years. Deese can be found helping behind the counter, sometimes bagging items in her signature Phyllis' Crafts style.

From local goods to local fixtures like Phyllis, The Sunflower Market is making good on the promise of supporting local. "That's the main message", shared Waltuch. "We're trying to show people there's a lot to local. There are fine products, healthful products, and we're supporting local people and local businesses." The market entrance is located off Technibuilt Drive, accessible from Business 321 and across from Southside Park. Make sure to watch for peacocks as you make your way to the parking lot.