Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

This is normally the week we would be reporting on the opening dates for spring outdoor tailgate markets throughout the region. The COVID-19 emergency has left farmers markets, like most businesses, in a state of uncertainty. We will do our best to keep you posted on market schedules in the coming weeks, but it’s best to check directly with your market to confirm if it will be open or if it has changed shopping procedures. Contact details for farmers markets, as well as links to social media where the most up-to-date information is often posted, can be found in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
In Buncombe County, the indoor Asheville City Market–Winter at the Asheville Masonic Temple has been canceled for the rest of the season (which was to end this Saturday). River Arts District Winter Market (Wednesdays at Plēb Urban Winery from 3 to 6 p.m.) is operating a limited market and pickup location for farmers offering preorders. Weaverville Tailgate Market (Wednesdays at Reems Creek Nursery from 2:30 to 6 p.m.) is slated to open April 1 as planned; they are asking customers to reserve the first hour, from 2:30 to 3:30, for elderly and at-risk shoppers. Opening dates for the outdoor Asheville City Market (Saturdays on N. Market St. downtown), Asheville City Market–South (Wednesdays at Biltmore Park Town Square), and North Asheville Tailgate Market (Saturdays at UNC Asheville) have been postponed. 
As an interim outlet for farmers, many of whom have also lost income from shuttered restaurants, ASAP has organized a new farmers market at A-B Tech, designed specifically to keep shoppers and vendors safe. The ASAP Farmers Market is currently operating on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon in the parking lots at the end of Persistence Dr. off Victoria Rd., with approximately 20 vendors, including produce, meat, cheese, bread, baked goods, ferments, and more. Only a limited number of people are allowed into the market area at one time, and social distances are maintained between vendors and shoppers. Products are pre-packaged and or bunched to limit handling and all payments are made online after shopping. Credit, debit, and SNAP/EBT are accepted. Read more details on how this market works.
Much of what you can buy at farmers markets right now lends itself well to stocking up. Sweet potatoes are an ideal pantry item, lasting a month or more if stored in a cool, dark place. Winter greens like kale, collards, and bok choy, as well as vegetables like turnips, radishes, and carrots, were likely picked the day before you buy them and will last much longer in your refrigerator than produce that has traveled through the supply chain to get to grocery store shelves. Farm-fresh eggs, too, can easily last up to a month in the fridge—or even longer if you freeze them. Meats are generally sold frozen to begin with and will last up to a year in the freezer.
Farmers markets are critical infrastructure to keep farmers in business and support local food systems—as well as providing vital access points to fresh, healthy food in a time of emergency. With careful planning, farmers markets can be as safe or safer than any place where food can be purchased. Read more from ASAP on why farmers markets are essential.

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