Landscaper goes FRESH with farmers market

Article By: Samantha Cronk
Photos By: Josh Triggs

Since he was 16, Jason Shade has been working in the landscaping industry with a desire to open his own business. However, upon achieving his goal, he never expected landscaping to bring a new opportunity for him: opening his own farmers market.

A well-established name locally for quality landscaping through his company Made in the Shade Landscaping, Shade, a Martinsburg native, recently decided to expand his brand by opening a farmers market in Martinsburg. Made in the Shade Local Market has been open for about two months.

“I had an idea to start this to bring something to Martinsburg that just wasn’t here,” he said. “I’ve always said that I can make money working with my hands. The store is something entirely new for me, so it’s working through trial and error. But, it’s exciting. I think the market is a great addition.

“Through the market, Shade wanted to provide a vehicle for local and regional farmers to be able to sell their products, from meat to produce, jams, honey, soaps, flowers, handmade duck calls and more. He sources the market’s items from local farms including Kilmer’s Farm Market, Sunny Meadows Nursery, Blonde Farm, Heritage Farm and individual farmers and crafters, with a focus on quality, in-season products.

“We’ve only been selling for two months, so it’s too early to tell what’s going to be the niche here. We’re trying to find it so we can offer it to the community. We really revolve around the local people though. People want local businesses, but it takes the support of the people to have a local business,” he said.

Shade plans to keep the farmers market open year-round, offering staples and seasonal items, like pumpkins and mums in the fall and wreaths and trees in the winter. While anticipating a slow start to the market while word on the new store spreads to the community, Shade said he is looking forward to the market’s addition to the area and the ability to provide fresh items.

As with any business, Shade is learning the challenges, as well as the triumphs that goes with operating a farmers market.

“Produce is a hard market to really push, because it’s a perishable item. It has a shelf life before it goes bad. That’s been one of the hardest things for us to figure out, having never done this before. What I would like to find out is what I can do with the stuff that is going bad. Right now, what I’m doing is providing bad produce materials to a local farmer to feed his hogs,” Shade said.

While opening Made in the Shade Local Market was a risky decision, especially since he had no prior experience with running a farmers market or in produce, Shade was used to taking business risks.

“I started my (landscaping) business from nothing. I actually had to cash in my Roth IRA that I had been saving to start a business because none of the banks in the area would support me. They said I had to be in business for two years before they would give me a loan. I took it upon myself to finance my own business. I knew that when I got out of college and started working that I wanted to have my own business someday, so that’s what I’d always been working toward. So far, we’ve been doing pretty well,” he said.

Shade began his journey in landscaping at 16 years old, working a summer job in Martinsburg, and earning a two-year horticulture certificate at James Rumsey Technical Institute. Upon graduating Martinsburg High School in 1995, Shade studied agriculture at Potomac State College, but continued to take horticulture classes as well as work for the same landscaper in Martinsburg during summer breaks.

After graduating, he worked in the Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland areas, with the dream to open his own business still strong. Shade said it was a push from his wife, Penny, that prompted him to move back to Martinsburg and eventually open a landscaping business.

“My wife wanted me to be home more, because I spent a lot of time away working for other people. The whole reason behind coming back here was to start a family. To me, everyone has to make money to make a living, but you only have one shot with your children,” he said.

Shade started Made in the Shade Landscaping in the basement of his home more than 15 years ago, eventually moving to its current local about seven years ago. Shade began the business only two weeks after the couple had returned from adopting their second child, Isabella, from South Korea, where they had also adopted their son, Camron.

Through Made in the Shade Landscaping, Shade offers anything dealing with landscaping for commercial and residential properties, including irrigation, mowing, property clean up, installations and shrub removal, as well as snow removal during the winter. As landscaping is a seasonal job, Shade believes the market is a good compliment as it will be open and offering its services to the public all year. With a good balance maintained between his two businesses and his family, Shade does not have any plans to expand either his landscaping business or the local market.

“Running two businesses, there’s no way I would be able to plant and run a farm myself. I would really like to stick to supporting local farmers. That’s the reason why I started it, to promote the local farmers and the farm-to-table idea. I want to keep everything as local as possible,” Shade said. “I was born here, I was raised here, and I plan to stay here and work and provide a service to the community.”

Made in the Shade Local Market is located at 2805 Winchester Avenue in Martinsburg and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The market can be reached at 304-264-4166 or through its Facebook page.

Author: Brian

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