The holiday season is in full swing here in Western North Carolina, and farmers markets are bustling with locals and visitors looking for holiday gifts.
We ran into two customers at Asheville City Market who agreed to let us follow them around while they shopped. C.A. Carlson lives in Asheville and goes to Asheville City Market every Saturday morning. Her friend, Steven Stern, is visiting from Queens, NY.
They stop by Highlander Handcrafted’s booth to look at wooden spoons and cutting boards. Woodworker Dane Markham says he uses local wood from sawmills, his backyard, and also from friends. “Lots of people cut down trees and call me and I come over and get the wood,” he says.
He points out that he is always working on something new, and this season he’s featuring a wooden Christmas ornaments branded with Asheville-themed designs.
C.A. Carlson asks him about the bear whistles he carves. “It’s a signal whistle to let the bear know that there’s a human presence,” he explains. “I have lots of people who have bears continuously in their yard and they come tell me they really do work.”
He asks, “Are you ready?” and blows the bear whistle. C.A. and Steven are startled by the loud sound and everyone laughs. “I need to come back and get some bear whistle stocking stuffers,” C.A. says. “You’ll be here for a few more weeks?” she asks. Dane says yes and C.A. thanks him for showing us his work.
“Can we stop in here to look at some of the knitted goods?” C.A. says as she wanders over to the next booth.
“These are felted bags,” says Julie Gunn from Myseanica Family Farms. “I’ve done a cool design on the underside and a nice design on the top and of course on the back. The hearts are the best sellers, so I put a little signature heart there.”
C.A. takes out her farmers market tokens to make a small purchase. “I’m using one of the tokens that are available here at the market. If I don’t make it to an A.T.M. machine I can just use my credit card to buy tokens right here at the market. All of the vendors take them and it’s so convenient.”
“It’s very convenient for us as well,” Julie says. “We weren’t taking credit cards for the longest time and it was so wonderful to be able to send the people down to the market table and get the tokens.”
“This is the primary place I shop,” C.A. exclaims. “And we’re very grateful that you are shopping at the market,” Julie replies. “This is how we make our money and the people that are here today in the cold are hard core people that are doing it.”
“Thank you for being here on this chilly morning” C.A. says as she moves on to the next booth.
C.A. stops to explain why she shops at Asheville City Market each week. “Well, I like to shop here because, first of all, it’s just a beautiful way to start the weekend, to connect with people who have also chosen to live in Asheville because of the wonderful food, the wonderful landscape, and the wonderful agriculture that’s here. It’s just really a great reminder every Saturday morning of why I chose to live in Asheville,” C.A. says.
“I also like to shop here because the produce, the meat, the eggs, the cheese, and everything is just beautiful and delicious and I love being able to have the bulk of my diet come from people who I know, people I can shake hands with at the market.”
C.A.’s friend, Steven, is enjoying his time in Asheville. He says they like to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but mostly they like to eat and drink at local restaurants.
“The local food scene it’s amazing,” he says. “Coming from New York, you would think I’m spoiled, but every time I’m down here there’s something new that I haven’t seen before. it’s always exciting to learn what people are doing here with the local ingredients,” he says.
Holiday farmers markets continue through late December. Find a list of holiday markets throughout the region at www.asapconnections.org
Re-run aired: December 2, 2019