Plough to Pantry
By Carolyn Schweitz
The Henderson County Tailgate Market (HCTGM) turns 40 years old this summer. This is a huge milestone for the Hendersonville community, and the Tailgate Market is celebrating all summer long. Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, until the end of October, farmers and vendors gather to sell the latest quality produce to the community.
“How rewarding to think a concept started 40 years ago by Ernie Thurston is still around today,” says Joey Popp, member of HCTGM board of directors and owner of Popp’s Posies. “Farmers, vendors and supporters have dedicated countless volunteer hours to make this market what it is today.”
Kathleen Askew of Simply Caught Seafood, a new vendor to this year’s market, says she is impressed by how the community has helped build the market into what it is today. “There is tremendous value in supporting local businesses and farmers,” she says. Supporting this amazing tradition of fresh crops and products is as easy as going to the market on a Saturday morning, but there are also some special events the Tailgate Market plans each year.
One of the best ways to celebrate the Tailgate Market’s 40th year is to attend the annual Tomato Festival, now in its 15th year and held this year on Saturday, August 10. “Henderson County is second in tomato production for the state of North Carolina,” says Karen Blaedow, N.C. Extension horticulture agent for Henderson County. “Currently 69 farms grow approximately 545 acres of tomatoes.”
Those attending the festival this year will be able to grab a yummy and free tomato sandwich and to taste-test new varieties of tomatoes from North Carolina State University’s tomato breeding program. There will be live music and a Kids’ Zone with fun activities for younger attendees. “The Tomato Festival almost feels like a picnic for your extended family—but family you like!” says Stacy Fields of Raspberry Fields Farm, a vendor of three years at the Tailgate Market.
The market’s vendors encourage everyone to head to the market to commemorate the success of 40 years. “I am personally thankful for the time and effort given from so many individuals over the years to allow this market to flourish,” says Gary Steiner of Bee-utiful Farm and Garden, a longtime vendor.