Spring’s in the air, and farmers’ tailgate markets aren’t far behind. On April 4, the Madison County Farmers Market at Mars Hill College opens, followed by the French Broad Food Co-Op’s (76 Biltmore Ave.) and the Henderson County tailgate markets (100 N. King St). On April 15, the West Asheville market warms up (behind West End Bakery on Haywood), and on April 18, both the Asheville City Market and the North Asheville Tailgate Markets get going (Public Works parking lot on Charlotte Street and off Weaver Boulevard at UNCA, respectively). There will also be Sundays on the Island (Sundays, of course, in across the river from downtown Marshall, starting April 19).
Shop for the freshest local food and make a day of free activities such as live music, tastings, and cooking demonstrations. Spring crops include asparagus, peas, spinach, lettuce, kale, bok choy, arugula, other greens, onions, mushrooms, and radishes. Many tailgate markets offer nursery plants and transplants, seedlings for you to plant in your own garden. Shop for breads, hand pies, scones, muffins, cinnamon buns, mini-cupcakes, strawberry rhubarb tarts, and other baked goods, both sweet and savory. Eggs, cheeses, beef, pork, chicken, jams, relishes, salad dressings, honey, handmade pasta and crafts are available at tailgate markets throughout the season.
“It’s an inexpensive family outing,” says Julie Mansfield of Mountain Harvest Organics farm, which sells fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. She mentions family-friendly activities and emphasizes how comparable tailgate-market prices are with area grocery stores. And of course, there’s the flavor of local produce and goods.
The Asheville City Market opens with something special: Chefs Anthony Cerrato (Fiore’s Ristorante Toscana) and Tres Hundertmark (The Lobster Trap) will offer cooking demonstrations at 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. (April 18). And Harpist Kathleen Slattery will perform throughout the morning.
For more information, visit the Web site, www.buyappalachian.org. By May, almost all area tailgate markets will be under way.