Take a drive through Western North Carolina and you’ll find farm stands piled high with local food. Some roadside stands have fruit, flowers, jams, pickles, and other farm-fresh products. Every few weeks there are new vegetables at the table that make it easy to eat with the seasons.
“Early on it’ll be kales and cabbages and lettuces and things like that. By the middle of June, we’ll have strawberries. Then we’ll start to have crops like squash and cucumbers and zucchini, says Annie Perkinson from Flying Cloud Farm in Fairview.
Annie and her partner Isaiah grow a wide array of vegetables and fruit, as well as flowers. They have a 90 member CSA, sell at two tailgate markets, and are known for the roadside stand at their farm.
“We actually started a version of it in 1999 where we had just a tent and a card table and then we built something a little more substantial a year or two later. Then I think about 2010 we built our current farm stand. It’s been a part of our farm since the beginning,” she says.
The honor-system, self-service farm stand is open every day, April through December. They only sell what they grow, so the produce and flowers change with what they’re harvesting that week. In the summer there are tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Cooler weather brings winter squash and pumpkins. There are bouquets of flowers most of the year, and a pick-your-own flower field beside the farm stand for people who want to select the perfect blooms before gathering their fruit and vegetables.
Farm stands are more than a place to pick up groceries and supplies. They’re a way to experience a farm up close and participate as the seasons change. “I think a lot of our customers kind of have a sense of ownership of the stand because they’ve been shopping there so long and it’s self-serve,” she says.
As Asheville and the surrounding areas become more popular, the farm stand has also become a frequent stop for visitors heading back from a day of hiking or a country drive.
“As we’ve built our business and gained a lot of regular customers, it’s become more of a destination, I think, as well as just the neighborhood local convenient stop for people,” she says.
The farm stand at SMM Farms in Hayesville is also both a destination and a locals’ spot. As soon as strawberry season hits in May, cars line up to get buckets of fruit for pies, shortcake, and to eat on the way home. It’s not self-serve, so there’s a chance you’ll meet the farmers when you check out.
Salvador Moreno Junior farms alongside his father, Salvador Senior, and his wife Alyssa Moreno. Salvador Junior is proud to have the fruit stand at the front of their farm.
“We have a truly locally-grown product and we market it and sell it through our fruit stand. When you go to our fruit stand, you drive down there and you just look to your right and there’s fields,” he says.
The vegetables come straight from the fields and into the farm stand where people can buy small amounts or in bulk. Salvador Junior says the large boxes of tomatoes, corn, and beans are especially helpful for older customers who aren’t able to garden anymore, but want to carry on the Appalachian tradition of preserving food for winter.
“They are still able to do their canning and all that stuff that they grew up with. I hope they appreciate it. I think they do,” he says.
Farm stands throughout the region are opening up for spring. This time of year, they’re likely to have tender greens, storage crops like sweet potatoes, flowers, or young plants. Look for a wide variety of vegetables and fruit May through October.
ASAP’s online Local Food Guide has a search tool to find the locations and contact information for farm stands throughout the Southern Appalachians at www.appalachiangrown.org
Aired: April 19, 2021