Winter farmers markets are becoming more commonplace now, but not too long ago it was tough to find local greens, root veggies, and winter squash direct from farmers during the coldest months of the year.
ASAP’s Local Food Guide began tracking venues for local food, including farmers markets, in 2002. In 2003, only the Henderson County Curb Market was listed as a year-round farmers market, but it was several more years before there were dedicated winter markets like we see today.
In 2010, the Madison County Winter Market became one of the first to run January through March. By 2013 there were four winter markets: two in Buncombe County and others in Madison and Jackson Counties. Since then, the number of winter markets has expanded dramatically, along with the opportunities to eat local food all year long. Today, there are eight winter markets in Western North Carolina, including Spruce Pine, Franklin, and Columbus.
Many of these markets accept credit and debit cards, and SNAP / EBT payments, that make local food more accessible to everyone in the community. Community support for local food and farms is driving the expansion of these markets, but at its core, we can thank the innovative farmers who are learning new strategies to extend the growing season and planning ahead for more storage crops.
The expansion of produce through the winter is a big attraction for customers, along with local meats, eggs, cheeses, preserves, and artisan products, all of which create vibrant farmers markets year-round.
Find winter markets in your county at www.asapconnections.org