ARODA, Va. — Baked goods from Mary Ruth Kipps have graced many tables at fundraisers, banquets and farm events in Madison County, Virginia. And, one of the delicacies that frequently appears on the menu of local farm-to-table dinners is Kipps’ rolls. The Aroda resident has gained notoriety for her baking skills and that includes a devoted following at the Madison County Farmers Market.
Kipps is a regular vendor at the weekly market and has been actively involved with the group that organizes and runs it. The market is open every Saturday from May to October and several times during the winter and spring.
“People are always looking for something good to eat,” said Kipps in between waiting on customers at her booth at the Madison farmers market. “We’re always able to sell good food.”
Kipps’ presence at the farmers market has led to many special orders of her products for parties, graduations and family celebrations.
Some customers, like Karla Baer, of Rapidan, have bought pies and tarts for social gatherings.
“I love the little pecan pies,” Baer said. “Every time I serve them, people want to know where they are from because they are so simple, but so good.”
Kipps has been tempting local residents with her baked goods and homemade jams and jellies since 2007. She was nudged into the baking business by her adult daughter, Stella Kipps. Stella’s enthusiasm for baking got the ball rolling and the pair started producing homemade confections for sale at a local market. The two have been baking bread, rolls, pies and cakes out of their Aroda kitchen for the past 11 years.
The business began as a means to supplement the family’s income from farming. The Kipps family has long operated a dairy farm in eastern Madison County and, like most smaller farms, the operation has had to be diverse. As well as milking, the Kipps family produces fresh turkey, duck, quail and chicken eggs. They also grow and sell fresh fruit and produce.
Mary Ruth Kipps is quick to credit her daughter for the success of the venture.
“Stella really was the one who started this,” said Mary Ruth Kipps. “My name is only on it because it’s my house and my kitchen. The baking has always been Stella’s passion.”
“I enjoy it too; but gardening is my thing,” Mary Ruth Kipps added. “This is a good business. It really, really helps. … Some years with milk prices what they are, we’ve made more money with the baking (than the dairy).”
Consistent methods, and tried-and-true recipes make for many repeat customers. Mary Ruth Kipp’s dinner rolls are often requested for serving at Madison-area dinners, including the Madison County Farmers Market dinner, Chamber of Commerce dinner and the Madison County Fair benefit.
Mary Ruth Kipps has been active not only by supplying produce for the farmers market dinners, but by cooking and serving food as well.
Mary Ruth and Stella Kipps use eggs from the family farm in their products. None of the baked goods contains any added preservatives. Their pie filling is made from fruit and nuts grown on the farm.
“There are no preservatives in any of these,” said Kipps, pointing at a shelf packed full of loaves of bread, and packages of dinner rolls and pies. “You have to eat these right away. This stuff doesn’t keep like the bread that you get at the grocery store. Sometimes we get a customer that is so used to baked goods from the grocery store, they actually think something is wrong with the bread if it gets stale after a couple of days. Most of our customers know the difference and that’s what keeps them coming back.”
Besides baked goods, Mary Ruth’s Garden sells homemade jams and jellies, eggs and seasonal produce at the farmers market. She regularly keeps quail, duck and turkey eggs in stock and is a valued local source of them.
Mary Ruth’s Garden is primarily a family business. Mary Ruth Kipps relies on Stella Kipps for help with baking — although she had to hire part-time help for the few months in 2016 when Stella hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
Mary Ruth Kipps’ baked goods are available at the market at Hoover Ridge Park, open every Saturday from May to October, 8 a.m. to noon, and by appointment at the Kipps family farm.