School’s out and it’s officially summer now, which means you might be ready to head out to your favorite hiking trails, swimming holes, or parks (while maintaining good social distancing, of course).
Want to pack a picnic on the way? Farmers tailgate markets are a great place to do that, even if you want to focus on simple, low-preparation (or no-preparation) meals. Here’s a guide to the best markets have right now that require nothing more than a folding knife and a cutting board.
Sweet summer berries and fruit are coming in quick and you’ll want at least one variety for your picnic basket. Bear Necessities Farm (ASAP Farmers Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market) still has strawberries, plus the first of the season’s raspberries, Creasman Farms (ASAP Farmers Market) has both white and yellow peaches, Thatchmore Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market) has blueberries, and McConnell Farms (North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market) and Lyda and Sons Orchard (Weaverville Tailgate Market) have cherries.
Snackable veggies are your next step. Early tomatoes are available from a few farms, including a cherry type from Olivette Farm (ASAP Farmers Market). Cucumbers, snap peas, radishes, and carrots are great for snacking plain or maybe with a bit of soft goat cheese (from Spinning Spider Creamery at ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market or Three Graces Dairy at North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market). Or without too much extra hassle you can put together caprese skewers to marinate on the way to your destination. Just thread cherry tomatoes along with thick slices of zucchini or summer squash, basil leaves, and cheese (Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery at ASAP Farmers Market has a variety that is similar to mozzarella) onto skewers or toothpicks, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and (optionally) balsamic vinegar. Need to pick up olive oil as well? You can get it from Headshrink Farms at River Arts District Farmers Market, Enka-Candler Tailgate Market, and East Asheville Tailgate Market.
Bread is a must-have for picnics and available at most markets. Enjoy it with local cheese or a vegan spread (Sama Spread is at Weaverville Tailgate Market and Darë Vegan Cheese is at ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market). Or you can assemble a few quick and easy sandwiches. Heirloom and slicer tomatoes are available from Thatchmore Farm and Full Sun Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market and River Arts District Farmers Market) for a classic tomato sandwich (bring your own mayo). Or go for a take on tea sandwiches with thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes over soft goat cheese.
Round out your picnic basket with ready-to-eat cured meats or fish from Hickory Nut Gap Farm or Sunburst Trout Farm (both at North Asheville Tailgate Market); fizzy beverages from Shanti Elixirs, offering many flavors of jun, or Brew Naturals, which has elderberry soda; and a few sweet treats.
At farmers markets right now you’ll also find beets, broccoli, kohlrabi, spring onions, garlic, garlic scapes, turnips, cabbage, head lettuce, swiss chard, and kale, as well as eggs, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. For a full list of markets open throughout the region, visit asapconnections.org. Find contact information and more details about the region’s farms and farmers markets in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.