Gettin’ groceries at the Asheville farmers markets

Mmmmm. The farmers market. I'm a local musician who plays gigs around town and occasionally out of state or out of country. And I have to say, that of all the theaters, venues and clubs that I've played, nothing beats the Asheville farmers markets. I love these gigs. The payment is usually tips and produce; there is no stage, no PA, no fame or notoriety. There is no alcohol to help patrons lose their inhibitions. People are inebriated on fair trade coffee, fresh-cut flowers, organic pastries and live music. Asheville's markets are the happiest venues I play. Children, dogs and adults from college age to the elderly commune together, stop and dance when they pass the music, and socialize with people they haven't seen in years. The farmers markets, I have found, are the ultimate “long-lost friend” social gatherings.

And everyone seems to be in a fabulous mood. Why wouldn't they be? They get to buy their groceries in this jolly, entertaining outdoor setting. They can buy anything from purple asparagus to pasta to poppies, raw chocolate, seedlings for their gardens, grits and grains, eggs and meats, fish and loads of local produce. You can browse wood crafts, pottery, sea-glass jewelry, soaps, lotions, candles and the list goes on.

I took the farmers in this area for granted until I signed up to play farmers markets in other towns, expecting the same offerings and settings. What I learned is that farmers here have tremendous pride in growing everything organic, and not selling goods from out of town or that are factory-assisted. It's a given that when you go to one of Asheville's markets that everything is going to be as fresh and local as it gets. And where else in America does a town this size have such an abundance of sustainable farmers per capita? Where else can I buy my groceries and get a breakfast turnover with ramps, eggs, spinach and cheese and some piping-hot locally roasted coffee? So skip the grocery store this week and get your week's food at the farmers markets (and the best breakfast in town.) And of course, you get to listen to Asheville's finest musicians … for free!

— Miriam Allen

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