During a typical year, farmers markets offer a dizzying array of activities. From cooking demos and tomato tastings, to jam festivals and morning yoga, farmers markets are a place to have fun while celebrating local food and healthy living. Most of these in-person activities are on hold because of the pandemic, but farmers market managers have found some creative ways to engage customers through virtual activities.
In a recent video, Demacy Monte-Parker is outside, surrounded by trees and birds. She inhales and lifts her arms to the sky as she leads a 10 minute standing yoga flow. She’s one of 15 Brevard Yoga Center instructors who recorded yoga videos in partnership with the Transylvania Farmers Market.
“Our plan had been that they were going to come and do about a 20 or 30 minute yoga stretch at our market on Saturday morning,” says market manager Leslie Logeman.
She had big plans to expand the market’s many activities this year, including a new yoga and walking program funded by Pisgah Health Foundation.
“We were really excited about that. Then it was, how do we modify that?” Leslie says. “Every week for fifteen weeks, we put out a new video. All of the videos, they average about 10 to 15 minutes, they’re great for every body. If someone’s practiced yoga before, if they’ve practiced for a long time, if they never practice yoga, it’s something that’s really approachable and really nurturing. During the pandemic and the stay at home order, I think we all needed that a lot.”
The market spread the word through its newsletter, social media, and by passing out printed materials at the market. Leslie says they’ve gotten great feedback on the videos from customers and community members.
“I know there’s one gentleman who is working at home at a home office that isn’t as comfortable as his work office has been in the past. He told us that he’s used the videos to either take a ten or fifteen minute break to do a stretch, or at the end of the day after he’s been sitting in a chair for a long time to really help him unwind for a few minutes,” Leslie says.
Another way people are unwinding during the pandemic is by cooking at home. Shopping for seasonal ingredients and preparing them in new ways has kept a lot of people busy and engaged this year.
ASAP’s Chef’s Challenge videos feature local chefs shopping for ingredients at farmers markets and transforming them into innovative meals on social media videos. Viewers can shop for the same ingredients at the next two farmers markets, make the dish at home, and submit their photos for a chance to win a farmers market gift certificate.
Chef J. Chong drew on her Cantonese background to develop a sweet and sour pork with market veggie stir-fry. It featured local pork from Dry Ridge Farm and vegetables from several farms at the ASAP Farmers market, including Lee’s One Fortune Farm which grew the bitter melon, water spinach, and quail eggs that went in the dish.
She shows viewers how to prepare the bitter melon and a special technique to crack a quail egg. The finished dish is beautiful and the video includes some wise words from chef J. Chong.
“Support local farmers, eat local, treat yourself well. Spread more knowledge and more love,” she says.
Find farmers market activities throughout the region by following farmers markets on social media and signing up for their newsletters. Find the dates, times, and locations of farmers markets in Western North Carolina and beyond in ASAP’s Local Food Guide www.appalachiangrown.org
Aired: October 19, 2020