The doors are set to open into the main room of the Asheville Masonic Temple — where Asheville City Market winter vendors have set up tables full of their products — and the atmosphere is anticipatory, festive, and full of excitement. In the entryway, a trio of musicians play old bluegrass tunes, and early-arriving customers order coffee and breakfast pastries (filled with local veggies grown by farmers at the market) while chatting merrily with one another.
Indoor winter farmers markets in Western North Carolina — including the Asheville City Market — offer shoppers and visitors a very different experience from the outdoor spring-through-fall markets. The produce selection follows the seasons, of course, but their smaller size and indoor locations make them feel more intimate than their warm-weather counterparts. They feel more like community events than simple errand stops to pick up weekly groceries.
With that said, the groceries are certainly still a very strong draw. The produce is fresh, flavorful, hearty, and varied. The breads have crisp crusts and soft, chewy insides. The eggs are rich, the meats plentiful, the apples juicy, and the cheese delightful. You can also find fermented foods, ground corn, microgreen sprouts, herbs — the list goes on. There are so many possibilities to get excited about and make the perfect winter comfort food (although you may not be craving a rib-sticking meal as much, given the warm weather we’ve had this past week).
In the coming winter weekends, be sure to check out at least one of the farmers markets near you. Participate in the exchange of wonderful locally-produced goods, as well as the warm greetings and rich conversations among vendors and fellow customers. And engage in shaping a food system that thrives all year long, honoring our region’s heritage of community-sustained, collaborative economies.
Check out the full list of 2017 winter markets throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting our online Local Food Guide.