Asheville – Practically every day of the week one can find a tailgate market in this area to visit and shop. Spring has finally arrived and it is time to step away from the large grocery chains and pick up local fare. Most shoppers seek a tailgate market at a convenient time and near their home. These markets offer the freshest fruits and in-season vegetables straight from their farm—apples, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, radishes, all types of lettuce, kale, beets, asparagus, green onions, herbs and corn. Many sell local artisan cheese, breads, products like olive oil, vinegars, jams, honey and handmade items like birdhouses or pottery items. Practically every day of the week there is a tailgate market somewhere. The trick is keeping your calendar straight to know where to go and when to purchase your favorite item. Here is some information on a few specific ones to tempt you to venture out.
West Asheville Tailgate Market
On Tuesdays from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm, go to the West Asheville Tailgate Market at the Grace Baptist Church parking lot on Haywood Road. Here, along with many other vendors, you will find goat, sheep and cow French-style cheeses from Three Graces Dairy. In addition, there’s certified naturally grown produce from New Roots Market Garden in Marshall. They advertise to be 100 percent spray free with zero pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Ornamental trees— like Japanese maples— and fragrant hybrid tea roses are brought to this market by High Country Nursery. They sell unusual striking landscape plants and trees and offer expert advice on their selection and placement.
Weaverville Tailgate Market
On Wednesdays, visit the the Weaverville Tailgate Market from 2 to 5 pm. They are now located at Gotta Have Antiques at 60 Monticello Road and even offer a pre-ordering spreadsheet online to fill out. Besides the fresh fruits and vegetables, purchase artisan breads from a number of bakers and fresh roasted coffee. The Ivy Creek Family Farm, owned by Anna and Paul Littman, harvest fresh, organic vegetables from their fields in Barnardsville to sell at this market. They supply produce to some of the top local chefs, such as Richard Gras of the Omni Grove Park Inn and Katie Button of Curate, which obviously speaks well of the flavor.
On their website, they said “When Chef Philip Bollhoefer (of The Montford Rooftop Bar) arrived to volunteer with us seven years ago he changed the way we farm at Ivy Creek and the way we work with chefs.
Pulling carrots from the ground, he watched us grade them. What are you doing with those baby carrots?’ he wondered. And with that, Ivy Creek Family Farm began growing baby carrots for chefs. Since then we have specialized our crops to fit chef’s plates, their palates and their inventions.”
At the Weaverville Tailgate Market, flower growers, such as Blazing Star Flowers, bring fresh seasonal blooms. They also offer CSA shares, a community support agriculture share and a subscription for weekly flower pick up or delivery. As a CSA member, a person will receive lush seasonal flowers every Thursday. As you order, you can select either a ‘Pre-made Bouquet’ or a bucket of ‘Loose Flowers’ to arrange yourself for a lovely weekly treat!
The River Arts District Farmers Market
Also open on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 pm is The River Arts District Farmers Market at 289 Lyman Street in Asheville. There you can pick up some mushrooms— Oyster, Shiitake, King Trumpet or Chestnut— from Black Trumpet Farm, or perhaps some locally grown rice, duck eggs or medicinal herbs from Lee’s One Fortune Farm. Overbear Farm brings lamb and mutton that has been grass fed on their farm in Swannanoa. Dry Ridge Farm sells high quality, humanely raised grass fed beef and woodland pork: cuts and grounds available as well as bacon, and eggs, eggs, eggs! Sugar Hollow Farm has fresh lamb cuts and whole chickens; seasonally available are chicken cuts and turkey.
Mills River Farmers Market
The Mills River Farmers Market is open from 8 am – 12 noon on Saturday in the parking lot of Mills River Elementary School on School Street. The market is ‘producer only;’ all the products sold are either grown or made by the seller within a 50 mile radius of the town. There is no buying and reselling of products. They strive to have a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables, breads, meats, plants, cheese, mushrooms, teas, coffee, bath and body care and high quality crafts. The offerings are constantly changing. Some of the farms are Holly Spring Farm, who bring some delicious blueberries, tomatoes, summer squash, sweet peppers and eggplant; Brittain Farms is a seventh generation family farm, Bearwallow Valley Farms, Terra Linqua Growers, LLC, and Barry Farms. The Crockers of Vandele Farms on Cedar Creek at Lake Lure bring farm raised free roaming pasturized pork. Try their sausage, bacon, specialty cuts, and half and whole hogs, which are also found in many restaurants such as Buxton Hall Barbecue.
Helping with Food Insecurity
The Mills River Farm Market began accepting SNAP/EBT benefits in 2014. The following year the Board of Directors wanted to do more to help solve the problem of food insecurity by offering matching dollars for SNAP customers. They solicited donations and are continuing to do so, from local businesses with support from churches and anonymous donors to fund the program. We are proud to say that many farmers markets throughout WNC are following our example by now offering a Double SNAP program with financial help from ASAP at this time.
In addition, the MRFM is also committed to educating the community with their programs for children and adults. They have a Kids Zone where children participate in an educational activity modified from the Growing Minds at Market program devised by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). There is also a Lending Library of quality children’s literature with a focus on plants, farming, animals, and nutrition. For adults, they focus on healthy eating.
The tailgate markets mentioned above are only a few of the many available throughout the week. You may notice that some of the farmers attend more than one per week to reach a variety of customers. These tailgates are over and above a weekend Garden Jubilee. Happily Hendersonville’s 28th annual garden and plant extravaganza will return to Main Street. Hendersonville, at the end of May with a new town-and-country format that includes self-guided tours to nurseries and orchards. In addition there is a year round farmers market, The WNC Farmers Market at 570 Brevard Road, Asheville, has open sided buildings and can be visited seven days a week from 8 am to 5 pm. There are five open-air truck sheds to provide 194 spaces for farmers and dealers to display top quality produce at reasonable prices. With all these delicious fresh vegetables and fruits available, perhaps one should start canning and freezing
for the winter.