Tasting Circle: Maple Farm Foods

  • Maple Farm Foods offers produce that caters to the Valley’s ethnic mix, from Polish pickles to corn tortillas to stuffed grape leaves. — Photo by Katy van Geel

  • The deli and meat counter at Maple Farm Foods. Katy van Geel

  • A tempting display of chocolate, pastries and other sweets at Maple Farm Foods. — Photo by Katy van Geel

  • Nina Scott, left, and Nuray Ozcelik, co-owner of Maple Farm Foods in Hadley. Katy van Geel

Published: 2/2/2017 4:17:47 PM

The Tasting Circle’s last stop, after visits to two Hadley markets, was Maple Farm Foods, also in Hadley. The 10 South Maple Street store is owned by Steve and Nuray Ozcelik, both of whom are Turkish-born.

Steve had moved to Sweden when he was a young man, acquiring Swedish citizenship and running restaurants and other ventures. He met Nuray, however, in South Deerfield; he was in the United States delivering oriental rugs to stores in Boston when a mutual friend introduced them. "And he never went back!" Nuray said. They now have a son and a daughter.

In 2008, Nuray spotted a sign that the building they now own was for lease and convinced Steve they should take a chance and open a market. Given the nationwide recession, it was not a propitious year for a new business venture, especially not one located, as Nuray said, "in the midst of the giants, such as Walmart and Whole Foods” in the nearby Mountain Farms Mall.

“But we survived,” she adds. “We are still a mom-and-pop store." 

I began frequenting Maple Farm Foods as soon as it opened, and I can attest to the incredible amount of hard work the Ozceliks have poured into their market. As immigrants and good business people, they’re aware of the many ethnic groups in this area, and they stock foods to accommodate them: Polish pickles and sauerkraut; fresh corn tortillas from Mi Tierra restaurant; Turkish juices, cookies, and hazelnuts; fresh pita breads; stuffed grape leaves and olives; and halal meats.

My favorites include the fabulous Bulgarian feta and Steve’s homemade yogurt. The couple also sell spices and herbs at much lower prices than at area supermarkets.

Prepared foods offered for lunch and dinner are especially varied. Steve and Nuray have experience in this area, as they previously were suppliers of prepared foods to Big Y and Stop & Shop. Katy and I stopped for lunch one day; many people came for takeout or ate at tables both inside and outside. We were smitten with the baked haddock in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. Afterward we avoided walking by their extensive chocolate counter, so as not to succumb.

In the summer, the Ozceliks do a thriving business in locally made ice cream sales. The store is conveniently located right beside the Norwottuck Rail Trail, and many a sweaty biker stops for refreshment, which is often consumed at picnic tables that offer a lovely view of the Holyoke Range.

Three Hadley markets, three compelling immigrant stories. We in the Valley are enriched by these business ventures and the hard work of their proprietors.

Nina Scott is a retired UMass Spanish professor. She facilitated the “Tasting Circle” class with Katy van Geel, a retired librarian and CPA. They both live in Amherst.


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