Offering Fresh Produce and Unique Treats for Over 60 Years

If there is one lesson we have learned from these past months of living with the pandemic, it’s the value of small businesses in our community and the importance of shopping locally. If you are looking for a gift that is unique, meaningful, AND delicious, Hill Top Fruit Market and its sister stores in Oakland (Farmer’s Market) and Cumberland (The Fruit Bowl) should be your first stop. Fresh fruit, local delicacies and unique sweets make an ideal gift and you can find all of this and more at these one of a kind stores.

Hill Top Fruit Market in Grantsville has been a popular shopping destination for locals and visitors to Garrett County since 1958, starting as a simple roadside produce stand opened by Chester and Shirley McFarland with the help of their ten children. Over time, it has grown into a full-time operation consisting of three stores and 45 employees.

The small produce stand, with its commitment to quality product and customer service, soon turned into a year-round operation with the second store in Oakland being opened in 1961 and the third in Cumberland in 1970. All three stores are still operated by the McFarland family and offer the same commitment to freshness and quality as their parents did all those years ago.

Of course, one of the big draws for all three locations is Candyland, which was added to the stores in 1966. Candyland offers over 900 varieties of candy, all available for purchase in bulk, so customers can pick and choose which candy, and how many pieces of each, they want. It’s priced by the pound so you can mix and match as much as you like.

“We used to drive to Pittsburgh to different wholesalers to offer this wide variety of candy for our customers,” said Joyce Kamp, one of current owners. “Now it’s delivered to us from all over the world.” Candy lovers will find popular brands from large candy producers like Hershey and Mars but as you look among the bins, you’ll find candies from all over the world, and some you might recognize from your childhood. They also feature a large variety of novelty candies — which are some of their biggest sellers and perfect as stocking stuffers. “We can’t keep them stocked fast enough,” says Joyce.

According to Linda Carr, another McFarland sibling, sugar-free items are one of their biggest sellers. They offer an entire section of sugar free candies, cookies, and more – including several items you just won’t find anywhere else. These are perfect gifts for friends and family watching their sugar intake.

More than just produce and candy, they carry many food items as well. In addition to everyday items like milk and eggs, you’ll find a variety of jarred goods, packaged dips and soups, plus local favorites like maple syrup and apple butter.

The store’s bulk section has a variety of items. They offer everything from buckwheat flour to cornmeal and have a wonderful offering of nuts, both in and out of the shell including almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, even hard to find pine nuts. These are a perfect for baking or to keep on hand as a healthy treat.

Looking for something different? Try one of their unique snacks. You can buy bags of seeds and sesame sticks in different flavorings…a great and healthy way to try something new.

Cheese is always a popular treat and Hilltop has over forty varieties for you to try. You’ll find so many different specialty cheeses here, everything from fresh mozzarella to cheddars flavored with onions, or Horseradish, as well as flavored cheese curds.

As far as produce, Hill Top always offers a variety of salad fixings including a variety of lettuces, root vegetables and pantry staples like potatoes, onions and garlic. They have a variety of tomatoes and always buy locally when it is available. For fall they have an abundance of different varieties of apples and you’ll always find delicious oranges, pears and more to keep the winter blues at bay. Boxed citrus and apples are also available.

Of course, no salad is complete without dressing and they always have a nice variety of delicious dressings as well as dips, flavored butters and delicious maple cream. Seasonal treats include fresh cranberries, apple cider, caramel dips, yams and more. You’ll also find rice noodles, specialty pastas and batter mixes and starters including a nice selection of Amish goods.

You’ll also find a huge variety of fresh spices including many you will need for your holiday dinner including ginger, cinnamon sticks and more. They also have gravy mixes, hot chocolate and cappuccino mixes and soup bases for a quick and tasty snack. Other treats include pickled asparagus, dried fruit, banana chips and so much more.

A fruit basket from Hill Top makes the perfect gift any time of year but especially during the holiday season. This year, as we rethink the way we live, we also may be rethinking the types of gifts we want to give…looking for ones that are not only meaningful, but also useful. “A customized basket from Hill Top is not only a gift of good taste, but also a gift that tastes good!” says Joyce.

You can create the perfect gift for anyone on your list with a customized fruit basket. You choose the size basket (small, medium and large) and then hand pick the items to make a unique and thoughtful gift.

Brunch lovers on your list might enjoy a basket filled with muffin or pancake mix, fresh maple syrup, homemade jams and jellies, granola mix and more. For the entertainer in your life, create a basket with a variety of gourmet soup, cheeseball and dip mixes so they’ll be ready for their next get-together. Another idea is a basket featuring a variety of the cheeses and meats carried by the store, along with fresh nuts or snack mixes, always a popular choice. Children of all ages love sweets and you can choose their favorites for a unique treat.

Not sure where to start? Any of their staff are happy to help. Ready-made fruit baskets are also available but must be pre-ordered. Still not sure? A gift card is always appreciated.

Stuck inside the house and looking for new activities to share with your children…or to keep yourself entertained? Hill Top has everything you need for an old-fashioned Christmas where you can make your own delicious treats to enjoy at home or to give as gifts.

You’ll find a variety of dried fruits, plus flavorings, decorating sugars and sprinkles, cookie cutters, candy molds and a large variety of melting chocolates in many colors and flavors. They have the largest supply of hard-tack flavoring oils in the area and are happy to supply bulk items to churches and organizations looking to make candy fund-raising ideas.

They also have color pastes, candy writers, edible glitter plus packaging for all of it. If you love baking, they always have a nice array of cookie cutters, melting chocolate in various flavors as well as chocolate and peanut butter chips.

The McFarland family has always appreciated their customers whom they know is the backbone of their business. You may not be able to find every item on your grocery list in their store, but you’ll find its worth the effort to make an extra stop here, especially knowing that the McFarlands support many locally made and grown items. When the local grocery store closed in Grantsville, Hill Top started to offer more grocery items for the convenience of their shoppers.

They receive deliveries daily (except Sunday) so you know all their produce is fresh. They also offer convenient hours, opening daily at 8 AM and each store is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday.

Hill Top Fruit Market is located at 12579 National Pike (Rt. 40) in Grantsville (open 8am to 8 pm daily), The Farmers Market is located at 12679 Garrett Highway (Rt. 219) in Oakland (open 8 am to 7 pm daily), and The Fruit Bowl is located at 10325 National Hwy (Rt. 40) in Cumberland (open 8 am to 7 pm daily). You can like their Facebook page for hours, up to date information on specials and more.

Make it an old-fashioned Christmas. This holiday season, enjoy and give the gift of good taste.

Written by Linda Carr