By Calie Brummer
It may be cold outside, with fields awaiting spring plantings, but across the WNC region, winter farmers markets give vendors a place to supply local meats, fresh cheeses, seasonal produce, pastries, handmade jewelry and art.
The Asheville City Market is open every Saturday from January 5 through March 30 from 9 a.m. to noon. Housed inside the historic Asheville Masonic Temple (80 Broadway Street), the market offers a variety of goods for sale while local chefs host cooking demonstrations.
Rutherford County hosts its winter farmers market inside the Town Hall (129 North Main Street) in Rutherfordton. Among the goods offered are coldhardy vegetables, local meats and gift items. The market opens on the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon.
More than 100 families participate in the local co-op converging at the Henderson County Curb Market (221 North Church Street) in Hendersonville. A landmark since 1924, the market offers local goods including homemade jams, fruits and vegetables, baked goods, candies, plants and soaps. The winter market runs January through March and is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The Transylvania Farmers Market (190 East Main Street) in downtown Brevard is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon during cold-weather months. The smaller winter market is a great way to shop year-round for fresh local foods including eggs, butter, cheeses, winter veggies, meats, honey, mushrooms, baked goods and fresh juices. Vendors also supply homemade jams and jellies, mustards, vinegars, fermented vegetables, houseplants and a wide variety of handcrafted items. The market is open from December through April.
The Spruce Pine Farmers Market (165 Locust Street) runs December through April on the first Saturday of every month. The market is open from noon to 4 p.m. and is held inside the Spruce Pine Main Street Visitor Center. Local vendors provide fresh produce, microgreens, freerange eggs, pastured beef and pork, honey, teas, tinctures and fine crafts from local artisans. “We’re delighted to offer all natural produce and other quality foods and medicinal items during a season when local products are often difficult to find,” says Jackie Wall, owner of Jackie’s Naturally and a vendor at the Spruce Pine market.
Growing Rural Opportunities holds the Columbus Winter Tailgate Market at The Rural Seed restaurant (322 East Mills Street) in Columbus in winter months through March 30. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, customers can pick up fresh, local produce, artisan crafts, herbal remedies and more. Guests can also enjoy a discount on a farm-to-table meal at the Rural Seed.
“What makes the winter market special is our partnership with the Rural Seed and the connection it solidifies between our local farmers, customers and businesses,” says Erika McMillan, interim director of Growing Rural Opportunities “Visitors can eat a meal featuring a local farm product and then meet the farmer who grew or raised it in the next room at the market. It doesn’t get any more local than that.”
The market is also a wonderful place to enjoy responsibly grown seasonal foods. “The winter market provides me with a year-round place to grow my small farm business and interact with my customers,” said Erica Shanks of Bearded Birds Farm. “It’s an opportunity to educate our customers on what eating seasonally looks like year-round.”
Roots and Fruits Market (151 South Ridgeway Avenue) hosts a winter farmers market in Black Mountain on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The winter market runs through April and hosts a variety of different vendors and live music acts each week. Guests can find fresh local produce from the Roots and Fruits farm, fresh Atlantic seafood, clothing, handmade jewelry, pottery, art, herbal products, ferments and much more.
To learn more, visit ASAPConnections.org, RutherfordCountyNC.gov, CurbMarket.com/wordpress, TransylvaniaFarmersMarket.com, Facebook. com/Spruce-Pine-Farmers-Market, Facebook.com/ColumbusFM and BlackMountainWinterMarket.com.