Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Like so much else, visiting a farmers market these days has changed. Once an active hub of social interaction in our region, markets now feature social distance protocols, no-touch payment transactions, and sometimes fewer vendors. While outdoor markets and buying direct from farmers can be considerably safer than closed-in grocery stores, it’s important as shoppers that we change our behavior as well to help keep these markets running as safely as possible. Shop as quickly as you can. With many markets limiting the number of shoppers at a time, it’s best to plan your purchases and limit browsing. This is not the time to stop and chat at length with friends and vendors—although hellos from a safe six-foot distance are fine if you’re not holding anyone up. Many vendors and markets are offering preorder options to further speed up your trip. 
But even with all of us shopping speedily, be patient. You may wait to enter the market, either in your car or spread out along the sidewalk (in-car wait times for the ASAP Farmers Market at A-B Tech have ranged from 10-30 minutes). With only one customer approaching a vendor table at a time, lines will form inside the market as well, often marked at six-foot intervals. Don’t crowd vendor tables and make sure you’re not jumping a well-spaced queue. 
Don’t set your bags (or your phone or your wallet) down on tables, which vendors are working hard to keep disinfected between customers. Hold your bags while filling them or place them on the ground, if needed.
Mind your social distances and, if you are shopping with children, be extra vigilant to make sure they do as well. (Dogs or other pets are best left at home right now.) Six feet is about the width of a car or a sofa—or the inflatable alligator illustrating the point at the ASAP Farmers Market.
Markets right now are stocked with kale, collards, mustards, spinach, bok choy, turnips, radishes, rapini, lettuce, scallions, herbs, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, pork and beef products, bread, baked goods, and more. Spring plant starts, particularly for greens, herbs, and onions, should be available at most markets. 
Updates on Buncombe County markets open this week (find updates on markets in other areas here):
ASAP Farmers Market: open Saturdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon, at A-B Tech’s Asheville campus, in the parking lot at the end of Persistence Dr. Shoppers queue in their cars to limit the number of people in the market area. Payments are made online after shopping. Double SNAP is available (i.e., a customer shopping for $20 worth of SNAP items will only have $10 charged to SNAP account).
West Asheville Tailgate Market: opening this Tuesday, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., at its regular location, Grace Baptist Church, 718 Haywood Rd. Only one entrance and exit to the market, off Haywood Rd. next to the church, is open, to limit the number of shoppers at one time. No cash transactions; preordering is encouraged. SNAP will continue to be accepted.
Weaverville Tailgate Market: open Wednesdays, 2:30 to 6 p.m. at an alternate location in the lower parking lot behind West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Ave. Customers are asked to reserve the first hour, from 2:30 to 3:30, for elderly and at-risk shoppers. No cash transactions; preordering is encouraged.
River Arts District Farmers Market: open Wednesdays, 3 to 6 p.m., outdoors at Plēb Urban Winery, 289 Lyman St. The number of shoppers at one time is limited and preordering is encouraged.
We will do our best to keep you posted on market schedules, but information can change quickly as markets adjust to new directives or recommendations from public health and local governments. 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 farms and farmers markets across the region, 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.

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