This past December didn’t bring the same significant snowfall and freezing temperatures we’ve seen in recent years, and as a result we’re seeing some unexpected produce at winter farmers tailgate markets alongside winter stalwarts like sweet potatoes, apples, and collard greens.
Winter has arrived (recent weather notwithstanding) and many year-round farmers tailgate markets have moved indoors. Though fewer in number, these markets still offer the best of local, seasonal produce. Throughout the colder season you will find plenty of storage crops, like sweet potatoes, potatoes, apples, cabbage, turnips, winter squash, beets, and carrots. Many farms make use of greenhouses or high tunnels to continue producing salad mixes, lettuces, and dark, leafy greens straight through to springtime. Meats, eggs, cheeses, bread, and artisan foods and products will also be available.
Are you a handmade gift-giver? Farmers tailgate markets are a great place to get inspiration and ingredients for these extra-special holiday gifts (or treats to keep for yourself—you definitely deserve it). Here are a few DIY ideas to get your started this season.
While some farmers tailgate markets have closed for the season, a growing number in Buncombe County offer special holiday markets or even run through the winter. These markets often have different hours or locations than their regular season counterparts, so check the list below to make sure you know when and where to find local food in December.
Midweek markets return this week as Asheville City Market-South and Weaverville Tailgate Market open for the season on Wednesday, April 4. Both have new locations: Weaverville Tailgate Market is now at Reems Creek Nursery (76 Monticello Rd., Weaverville) from 2:30-6 p.m. Asheville City Market-South, from 12 to 4 p.m., stays within Biltmore Park Town Square, but shifts up the promenade to the grassy area in front of the Reuter Family Branch YMCA, between REI and Mosaic Cafe.
With spring’s official arrival yesterday, outdoor farmers tailgate markets can’t be far off! Most area markets start their season during the months of April and May.
These can be weeks of whiplash as the temperature swings from tantalizingly warm to hard freeze. Is it time to look for seed starts, or hunker down with a hearty stew and fridge full of provisions in case of a snow day?
The slower shoulder season is a good time to ask your favorite farmers tailgate market vendors about what they might have in coming weeks. As storage crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash begin to wane, you’re likely to see an uptick in greens, including salad green mixes, baby kale, microgreens, and pea shoots.
As farmers tailgate markets have grown in recent years, it gets easier to eat local through the winter and still enjoy some variety. Even so, we suspect there’s a moment for even the most ardent local eaters when you ask, “But what else can I do with sweet potatoes?” The classic winter storage crop is a standby at fall and winter markets (at Asheville City Market-Winter, look for them from Ten Mile Farm or Sleight Family Farm). They can be easily roasted, pureed, fried, and gratinéed for cold-weather meals, but we’re here to offer a few less conventional ideas to add to your repertoire.