Western North Carolina is a rich agricultural area and the summer is a great time of year to enjoy the bounty of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Juicy ripe peaches, wonderful tomatoes of varying size and color, mountain blueberries, dozens of varieties of squash, greens, potatoes and more are fresh from the fields right now and available at local tail gate markets and farms.
Whether you visit a small local tail gate market, or the large state run WNC Farmers Market in Asheville, you are assured of finding plenty of "good eats". While you're shopping for fruits and vegetables, don't miss the locally made cheeses, grain fed organic meats, organic honey, and garden fresh flowers to round out your table.
This past weekend, I hit two small tail gate markets as well as the WNC Farmers Market. For the very best selection, and while it's still cool, go early in the day. Be sure to bring a large basket or canvas bag to carry your goodies home in. This time of year, it's also a good idea to bring along a cooler with ice, or one of those thermal bags in case you buy cheese, eggs, or any other perishables.
The first stop was the N. Asheville Market on the campus of UNC. All the tents and tables were set up under the trees and by the time we got there at 10, it was already buzzing with activity. Honestly, it was so hard for me to choose what to get. It was all great. I settled on some kale that was different from any I've seen in the stores, some incredible fresh made Chevre cheese with ginger in it, some braising greens, fresh salad greens, and organic patty pan squash.
The next stop was another small market in Asheville where I snagged some amazing bread, sweet onions, and some other veggies that were destined for the grill that night.
Our final stop was the WNC Farmers Market. This is where local restaurants and stores also buy their fresh goods. There is a special section just for commercial buyers and there is a large building for the rest of us. This is where I bought my peaches and tomatoes. If you don't live in an agricultural area and are reliant on a chain grocery store for "fresh" vegetables....you don't know what you're missing. The peaches come from just over the border in SC. The tomatoes are local. Both are packed with freshness and flavor that you don't get when they've been picked too soon and shipped across country. Of course, there were plenty of beans, squash, onions, potatoes, honey, cantaloupes, flowers, and herbs from local farms, as well as a few non-food craft booths.
By the time we headed home, the car was filled with the smell of peaches and I couldn't wait to start cooking!
Below are just a few of the local markets. For a complete list and more information about local tail gate markets, growers, and farms in this area visit http://www.asapconnections.org/
- Transylvania County Tailgate Market - Tue, Thur, Sat 7:30 am - 1:00 pm behind the South Broad Park.
- Henderson County Tailgate Market - Sat 9:00 am - Noon 100 N. King St., Hendersonville
- N. Asheville Tailgate Market - Sat 7:00 am - Noon. UNC campus
Photo Source: Flickr.com
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