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Buy local at Asheville farmer’s and tailgate markets

woman at flower farm

Living in Western North Carolina, we’re fortunate to have access to fresh, delicious produce and other food products, most of which are grown or raised through sustainable means.

Small family farms using organic methods for growing their products or raising their animals are mainstays of the Asheville Farmer’s and Tailgate Markets. Some of these farms have been around for generations, farmed consistently by family members choosing to be stewards of the land.

Others have taken to the earth more recently, but whether they’ve been around for a while or are fairly new, they all seem to have the same care and concern and that is to nurture their families and the community.

Buying local isn’t just hyperbole. Buying local means you’re getting the freshest products from farmers who are able to grow a much wider variety of produce, including heirlooms. The food is more flavorful because it’s fresh. And locally made also means you’re supporting the community in which you live.

Farmer’s and Tailgate Markets are a perfect way to buy local. By supporting local artisans and area farms, we can help maintain a heritage rich in our mountain culture.

Asheville is known nationally as a destination for great food. Many of our regional restaurants buy locally because they also subscribe to the importance of the freshest ingredients grown close to home by farms using sustainable, organic methods.

The benefits of sustainable agriculture are many and focus on human health and the environment. It begins with food grown more naturally without the application of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Natural food free of chemicals not only tastes better, but also is much healthier for you.

Sustainable agriculture is also much better for the environment. In this day of climate change deniers, whatever we can do to help the environment is critically important. Sustainable farming finds a balance that preserves the ecological system within the environment. Other goals of sustainable agriculture are water conservation, reducing the use of chemicals and promoting the biodiversity in the crops grown.

In Asheville, you can visit a Farmer’s or Tailgate Market every day of the week. Most are open from May through September, with some open until November, and the Western NC Farmer’s Market is open year-round.

At these markets, you can find a variety of fresh produce, flowers, cheese, honey, jams, arts and crafts and many other handmade unique items. Each market is different, but they all focus on locally grown or artisan-crafted products.

A closer look at a few local farms …

Carolina Flowers is a specialty cut flower farm owned by Emily Patrick. Located in the mountains of Marshall NC, she grows and handpicks dozens of varieties of beautiful flowers for every occasion, using sustainable techniques. Much of the land around Marshall was once used for tobacco production, and that was the case for the land now used by Carolina Flowers.

Emily feels that the land can still be the backbone of the local economy and an important part of the area’s culture by using it now to grow flowers and other specialty crops. This helps create vibrant communities that are economically stable.

Carolina Flowers has been in business for two years and you can find them every Saturday morning at the City Market in downtown Asheville. You can also contact them or sign up for a Flower Subscription on their website at

Farmers at the market

Headwaters Market Garden, owned by Will and Savannah Salley, started out as part of the Farmer Incubator Program of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Their farm, located in Alexander NC is in its second season of production.

It is a low-till, bio-intensive, mixed vegetable farm that focuses on quality over quantity. This means they utilize every space, believe in the importance of plant diversity, and rotate their crops using companion plants. Will and Savannah believe in a life of sustainability, simplicity, purpose, hard work and adventure. Check out their products at the Asheville City Market on Saturday mornings.

Spinning Spider Creamery is owned by Chris and Jeff Owen. Chris is featured on the cover of this month’s magazine. Together with their three sons, they run the family dairy farm, which is quite an undertaking. Their efforts and care translate to a healthy herd, healthy goats and award-winning cheese. Spinning Spider is an artisan creamery situated in a mountain cove on Bailey Mountain in Madison County NC. The elevation is high, the air and water are pure and their goats reflect this in their vitality and production.

The Owen family’s roots are in 4-H and their family mission is to maintain a lifestyle that incorporates the cycles of the seasons with their love of their animals, their craft of cheese making and their family unity. Spinning Spider produces a variety of handcrafted artisan cheeses that are brought to their fullest complexity of flavors through care and attention to detail in an old world style.

You can find them on Saturday mornings at the Asheville City Market and at the North Asheville Tailgate Market at the campus of UNC Asheville. You can also find them on Saturdays at the Brevard and Greenville SC markets. Tuesday evenings they are at the Sierra Nevada Tailgate Market and on Wednesday evenings you’ll find them at the River Arts District Tailgate Market as well as the market in Cashiers.

Wright Way Nursery & Landscaping is a family-owned nursery located in Waynesville in Haywood County NC. The farm is operated by the Wright family and you can generally find Will Wright at the WNC Farmer’s Market in Asheville. The nursery grows a wide variety of garden plants, such as azaleas and peonies, shrubs and trees for planting in yards and gardens, and for landscaping.

Collaborating with Dream Escapes, another landscaping business, Will Wright provides shrubs and trees for their projects. Serving all of Western NC, Dream Escapes Landscaping & Hardscaping grows their own smaller plants on their farm, Natural Mountain Growers, located in Marshall NC.

Owned by Brad Fountain and Todd Wilhite, they started their business in 2003 and provide a variety of services including landscaping design and installation, land management, historic restoration services and hardscaping, and stonework and masonry. They are specialists in all aspects of outdoor garden design and building. They can be found at the WNC Farmer’s Market and part of the year at Haywood Historic.

Asheville’s Farmer’s and Tailgate Markets …

Western NC Farmer’s Market Address: 570 Brevard Road, Asheville (Exit #47 on I40) Outdoor Vendors: Open year-round, seven days a week Buildings: Open daily, 8am-6pm April-October; 8am-5pm November-March Fruits and vegetables, plants, mountain crafts, jams, jellies, preserves, sourwood honey and other farm-fresh items. The 36-acre complex houses two buildings for indoor shopping including a market with arts and crafts, year-round produce, grocery stores, a deli and restaurants. Jesse Israel & Sons Garden and Nursery Center features top quality plants, trees and shrubs with a greenhouse full of tropical plants, water plants and bonsai.

West Asheville Tailgate Market Address: 718 Haywood Road, Asheville 28806 Phone: (828) 545-4516 Open: Tuesdays, 3:30-6:30pm, April-November Offering a wide variety of fresh and local fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, jams, sauces, baked goods, artisan cheeses, crafts and more. Grab a hot meal from Gypsy Queen Cuisine while listening to live music.

Asheville City Market South (Biltmore Park) Location: Town Square Boulevard, Biltmore Park Esplanade, Asheville 28803 Phone: (828) 210-1660 Open: Wednesdays, 12-4pm, April-October Sponsored by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and featuring local food, farmers and artisans from Western North Carolina. Offers fresh and seasonal produce, dairy, a variety of meats, vegetarian options, locally-made condiments, snacks, body care products and more.

French Broad Food Coop Tailgate Market Location: 90 Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville 28801 (next to French Broad Food Co-op) Open: Wednesdays, 2-6pm, April-November Asheville’s original organic tailgate market since 1990.

River Arts District Farmers Market Location: 175 Clingman Avenue, Asheville 28801 Open: Wednesdays, 3-6pm, May-November Producer-only market providing an array of local, hand crafted products, including sustainably grown fruits and vegetables, baked goods, wood-fired breads, a wide variety of meats, goat cheese, handmade soaps and more.

Oakley Farmers Market Location: 12 Old Charlotte Hwy, Asheville 28803 Phone: (828) 407-0188 Open: Thursdays, 3:30-6:30pm, May-September Locally-grown produce and locally-made arts, crafts and food offered by farmers, artisans, and crafters.

East Asheville Tailgate Market Location: 954 Tunnel Road, Asheville 28805 Phone: (910) 515-9145 Open: Fridays, 3-6pm, May-September Offering an array of fresh produce, honey, crafts, eggs, baked goods, and prepared foods. Featuring live music and a great community of vendors.

Asheville City Market - Downtown Location: Downtown Asheville on North Market Street between Woodfin and East Walnut Open: Saturdays, 8am-noon, April-December Producer-only market featuring goods by local farmers, craftspeople, bakers and other vendors. Free parking is available at the HomeTrust Bank lot and the lot across from the YMCA at 35 Woodfin Street.

Held outside through the 3rd Saturday in December, with special holiday hours before moving indoors for winter at the Asheville Masonic Temple.

North Asheville Tailgate Market Location: On the campus of UNC Asheville Open: Saturdays, 8am-noon Directions: From UNC Asheville main entrance on WT Weaver Blvd., go up the hill from the roundabout and take the first right. The market is on the lower level of the two-level parking lot “C” just southeast of Owen Hall.

This market has been here since the early 1980s with over 40 vendors. Enjoy a breakfast crepe, grab a cup of freshly roasted coffee or pick up a tasty baked good while you wander through the market for artisan breads, honey, fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, cheese, locally-made arts and crafts and much more. Many local farms participate in this market.

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