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Nothing says warm weather quite like a visit to the local Tailgate Market. Located in parking lots throughout Western North Carolina during the long spring, summer, and fall growing season, these tiny farmers markets provide a close link between local farmers and consumers. A stroll through any of these markets on a sunny Saturday morning or a cool Wednesday evening will confirm that the produce is fresh, perhaps picked only hours earlier. Farmers and their families man each booth and are able to answer any questions a customer might throw their way.
The Tailgate Markets are part of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), an organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the use of locally grown food. According to ASAP (and common sense), not only does locally grown food taste better as a result of fewer hours between harvest and the dinner table, it is a better product; fresh food loses many of its nutrients quickly, so the longer fresh food sits on a shelf, the less nutrition it has to offer.
ASAP reports that local food supports local farm families. With fewer than 1 million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, the small American farm operator is a vanishing breed. Commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food, which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love. Buying local food also gives city-dwelling consumers the chance to get to know farm families, re-establishing a time-honored connection. Knowing farmers gives insight into the seasons, the weather and the miracle of raising food.
The list of available foods changes each week with the growing season. While strawberries are available early in the growing season, buyers won't be able to get local corn or melons until later.
There are many Tailgate Markets throughout Western North Carolina. Listed below are some of the markets in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Madison counties. For a complete listing of Tailgate Markets in Western North Carolina with dates and hours of operation, visit the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project web site at www.asapconnections.org or www.buyappalachian.org.
Please note that the markets do not have a uniform opening date; while several markets open as early as April, others will not open until dates in May. Please check the dates and times for your local market before making the trip.
French Broad Food Coop Tailgate Market - Asheville's original all-organic tailgate market, serving Asheville and surrounding communities on Saturday mornings since 1990. You will find freshly picked organic vegetables and fruits, herbs, flowers and garden plants. Local honey, focaccia and breads baked fresh in a wood-fired brick oven also available. Vegan and non-vegan baked treats, freshly brewed organic coffee, rare medicinal and landscaping plants, fresh eggs and a variety of goat cheeses. Located in the corner parking lot at the French Broad Food Coop, 90 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville. Open Saturdays, 8 AM - 1 PM. Also open Wednesdays, 3-6 PM, beginning Saturday, April 26, 2003.
Black Mountain Tailgate Market - a community market featuring locally grown produce, Jake's Farm certified organic, garden plants and berry plants, hostas and other perennials, farm fresh eggs, local honey, home baked goods, and local artisan crafts. Breakfast available, including organic coffee. Located on Vance Avenue, just off Highway 9, between CCB Bank and Black Mountain Natural Foods in Black Mountain. Open Saturdays, 8:30-11:30 AM, beginning May 3, 2003.
Fairview Tailgate Market - a variety of vendors, carrying organic vegetables and herbs, handmade soaps, homemade jams and jellies, bread, pasture raised meats. Containerized ornamental trees, lilies and irises, fiber crafts. Located on Highway 74, beside Angelo's Restaurant. Open Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM, beginning May 17, 2003.
North Asheville Tailgate Market (see top two photos)- local organic and conventional produce, plants, flowers, baked goods, local canned goods. Located behind Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, 675 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville. Open Saturdays, 7 AM-Noon, beginning April 26. Also open Wednesdays, 3-7 PM.
Warren Wilson College Garden Market - a wide variety of mixed vegetables, fresh cut flowers, soft fruits, and culinary herbs. All produce is harvested, washed and processed the morning of the market. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own bags, if possible. Located on the patio of the Gladfelter Building, central campus of Warren Wilson College. Open Fridays, 11 AM-1 PM.
Mountain Fresh Market - daily retail market for farmers and crafters selling what they grow or make. Fresh food, unique crafts, handmade jewelry, homemade jams, honey, flowers, and handmade art are available. Vendors rotate daily. Located in downtown Asheville on Battery Park Avenue outside the Grove Arcade Public Market. Monday through Saturday, 10 AM-6 PM. Open year-round.
Henderson County: Henderson County Tailgate Market - local organic and conventional produce, flowers, herbs, plants, baked goods and canned goods. Located at the Henderson County Commissioners Building, 100 N. King Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue) Open Saturdays, 7 AM-Noon, beginning April 26, 2003.
Hendersonville Curb Market (see bottom two photos on right)- A co-op of 100 families sell plants, dried flowers, jams, local fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, fresh baked goods, cakes, candy, soap, and folk crafts. Everything is handmade and produced in Henderson County, NC. Located on Church Street in Hendersonville - almost directly across the street from the old courthouse. Open year-round. Summer from 8 AM-2 PM, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; Winter from 8 AM-2 PM Tuesday and Saturday. For more information, please contact Ralph King at 828-693-8991.
Haywood County: Waynesville Tailgate Market - only locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, plants and honey produced by local farmers and gardeners. Located at Badcock Home Furnishings parking lot, North Main Street across from First Presbyterian Church of Waynesville. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8 AM-Noon, beginning May 27, 2003.
Madison County: Madison County Farmers' Market - the freshest, tastiest produce in season. More than twenty different vendors - all local farmers and craftspeople. Locally-grown produce, free-range eggs, several kinds of goat cheese from local farms, our own mountain honey and molasses, canned goods, home-baked goods and bread. Crafts of many kinds - brooms, flowers, furniture, soaps, medicinal herbs and much more. Located on the Mars Hill College campus, 1.2 miles from Route 19/23, Exit 11, across from the tennis courts. Open every Saturday morning, 8 AM-1 PM, beginning April 26, 2003.