Western North Carolina is on the cusp of spring. The redbud trees are bursting with color and daffodils line the streets of the West Asheville neighborhood. The seasons are changing, which means outdoor farmers markets are right around the corner.
A group of farmers is gathered in a parking lot on Haywood Road, ready to spread the word about the start of farmers market season. Today is Market Bucks Canvassing Day. It’s an annual tradition for this market, where farmers fan out into the West Asheville neighborhood to tell folks about the farmers market and give them coupons. Each coupon is worth a dollar that can be redeemed at any booth at the West Asheville market.
Quinn Asteak, executive director of the West Asheville Tailgate Market, welcomes the farmers and encourages them to “engage with our neighbors and give them a little bonus to encourage them to come out to the market every Tuesday.”
John Janeski from Browns Creek Herbs is a farmers market vendor who participated in Market Bucks Canvassing Day last year and is excited to walk around and tell people that the farmers market starts this week. “[Market Bucks Day] is a lot of fun because you get to bump into people on the street that maybe you wouldn’t have a reason to talk to, so it kind of gives a way to open up a conversation and remind people that the market is here. Most people we met last year knew the market and were planning on coming,” he says.
Farmer Tom Elmore is a longtime vendor at the market and former door-to-door salesman. He offers some tips for being approachable and effective when walking up to people on the street or knocking on their door, like taking a step back from the doorway so residents can see a friendly face through the peephole.
Each group of farmers gets a map of their part of the neighborhood, including Wesley and Anna Sleight from Sleight Family Farm. They grow microgreens and other produce with the help of their young son, Finley. Fin is very friendly and loves to knock on doors as we walk through the neighborhood.
People are outside working on their lawns, walking their dogs, or relaxing inside when the Sleight family knocks on their door. Wesley introduces himself as a local farmer and says that the farmers market is starting on Tuesday.
Many people we meet have been to the farmers market before, but didn’t realize that it’s back for the season. Wesley also met a few people who didn’t know there was a farmers market in their neighborhood.
“Sometimes we run into people on the street that you don’t normally see at the market, and they just get psyched about it. Like, oh wow, I never really go to a farmers market, but this seems like a fun idea,” Wesley says.
Several outdoor farmers markets are already in full swing, and more will start up in the coming weeks. Meet the farmers you heard in this story at the West Asheville Tailgate Market on Tuesdays, and find a list of markets throughout the region at www.asapconnections.org
Aired: April 15, 2019