Trick-or-tailgate this week to pick up locally grown pumpkins in time for Halloween. Area farmers markets have all shapes and sizes perfect for dishes and decoration, and they’ve got gourds up for grabs, too.
While they look distinct from the squash varieties now available at tailgates (acorn, buttercup, carnival, delicata, spaghetti), pumpkins are actually winter squashes, not a separate species. In fact, many winter squashes can be used in place of pumpkin in a pie recipe, although they’d prove a bit challenging to carve. (Note: Mini-pumpkins look like their bigger brothers but are actually inedible gourds.)
If you’re heading out to pick a pumpkin from an area patch, to navigate a corn maze or visit an apple orchard, be sure to stop and shop at another type of tailgate: the roadside farm stand. Many farmers sell their produce, meats, and value-added products at stands right on the farm or just up the road. They often carry items from other nearby farms as well. And like area markets, they’re open through the end of the month, with many offering cool-weather crops and other items into November. You’re sure to find even more fall decor at stands, too. In addition to pumpkins and gourds, look for handmade wreaths, bunches of Indian corn and more.
These decorative items are in abundance at tailgates, too. You’ll likely notice an increase in craft vendors and vendors with value-added products (jams, honey, molasses) in the coming weeks.
Markets are truly in the seasonal spirit now and hosting events to show it.
On Saturday, October 23, Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian restaurant will exhibit market products at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. Black Mountain Tailgate Market will host a Harvest Fair on October 30, with free apple cider, demos and displays, and Barnyard Bingo for kids. Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville will also host a Fall Harvest Party on October 30.
The last Saturday of October marks the final market day of the season for some area tailgates; however, many remain open into December. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s website will be updated with closing details and dates this week. Find the locations of farmers markets and roadside stands throughout the region by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.