G. Edward and Kathy Fielder, of Creswell, are in their second year of selling their homemade jams, jellies, salsas and hot sauces at the Bel Air Farmers' Market, and they have branched out this year to sell their award-winning products at farmers markets in White Marsh and Towson.
"We try to make a quality product, and I will not can any product that I would not eat, and we make sure a quality product gets from our kitchen to the shelf," Edward Fielder said.
Speaking on a recent Saturday morning at their booth at the Bel Air Farmers' Market on the parking lot of the Mary E.W. Risteau State Office Building, the Fielders expounded on their business.
They are proprietors of Fielder's Choice Delectables, or FCD Foods LLC. They grow peppers, tomatoes and onions in their home garden, and then they make their lines of mild, medium and extra-hot salsas, as well as mild and spicy fruit-flavored jams and jellies.
"We've got tomatoes hanging in the garden like bunches of grapes," Edward said.
The products are sold through local farmers' markets, as well as supermarkets such as Klein's ShopRite and farm operations such as Bloom's Broom Dairy.
"It gives me something to do, now that we're retired," Kathy said.
She is a retired Churchville Elementary School librarian and media specialist, and he retired as a Harford Technical High School government teacher.
Edward served on the Harford County Council from 1982 to 1990. He and his wife will celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary in August.
Karlen Murray, of Bel Air, sampled the Fielders' hot cranberry and apple pie jams Saturday. She is a repeat customer, and wanted to replenish her supply of jams.
She said her favorite is "hot raspberry over a block of cream cheese with a cracker."
She also had two samples of the hot cranberry.
"I wanted to have the hot cranberry as a memory in my mouth, so I went back and got the hot cranberry a second time," Murray said.
Kathy Fielder said they "see a lot of repeat customers."
"They like it a lot," she said. "In fact, most people that try it come back or buy some."
Fielder's Choice Delectables was incorporated in October 2010. Edward said the sauces started when he cooked them for his family at Thanksgiving.
He said he "decided to get serious about it" after he won Grand Champion Jam in the Maryland State Fair in the fall of 2010.
The company was formed a short time later.
Edward said he started growing green peppers, and "then tried some jalapeños, and I just started getting hotter and hotter."
He said he started growing the peppers in his basement under grow lights.
This year, the garden incudes about 2,400 onion plants, 400 tomato plants and about 400 pepper plants.
Edward said the onions are being stored in a freezer. As for the tomatoes, he said, "we'll be canning like crazy next week."
The Fielders' products have won top prizes at the local, state and national level. Edward said his mild salsa took first place at the 2014 National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show in Albuquerque, N.M.
He said his mild and hot salsas typically place first, second or third in their category in that show.
"They don't like it in New Mexico that we come out there and beat their peppers, either," he said.