Outdoor farmers markets are finally here and local food lovers have reason to rejoice. Town squares and parking lots across the region have been transformed into community hubs for farm-fresh food and lively conversation. Neighbors and farmers chat about growing and cooking local food, and families dance and clap their hands as bluegrass music floats through air.
Tom Elmore and Karen Thatcher of Thatchmore Farm in Leicester, North Carolina have been selling produce at local farmers markets for about 20 years. Tom says he’s seen the markets evolve from a handful of home gardeners selling extra produce to a movement of full-time farmers who grow for the community.
He has some advice for first time market shoppers or people who want to make the most of the experience. “Buy things familiar and then also things that seem new to you,” he says.
This year his farm is growing an unusual African green that Tom guesses many of his customers have never tried before. He also suggests picking up old favorites, like lettuce, salad mix, kale, or collards. Soon other farmers will have spring delights like asparagus and rhubarb, and strawberries aren’t too far off.
“At the tailgate market, I think you can count on what is being offered as being among the most flavorful that you’ll find anywhere,” he says.
Meat, eggs, and bread are available at most markets, making it simple to plan a whole week of meals with just one stop. ASAP keeps a list of markets in the Southern Appalachians and updates on what’s fresh every week at www.fromhere.org