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chestnut mushrooms from Black Trumpet Farm, photo by Camilla Calnan

Springtime brings on foraging dreams for many of us—returning to your favorite ramp patch or happening upon an elusive morel deep in the woods. But if you’re not able to wander off the path in search of these delights, farmers tailgate markets can also be great places to gather wild foods, in addition to cultivated spring crops.

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Nettles

One of the joys of shopping at farmers tailgate markets is getting to try things you would never find in a grocery store. That’s especially true in the spring, when a myriad of unique greens start to join the more tried-and-true spinach, arugula, and kale. Right now we’re excited to see the first stinging nettles, sorrel, and Tokyo bekana, among other greens. 

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broccoli

It’s opening week for many of the farmers tailgate markets in Asheville and Buncombe County! Find North Asheville Tailgate Market Saturday morning back at UNC Asheville; West Asheville Tailgate Market returns to Haywood Rd. on Tuesday; Weaverville Tailgate Market kicks off its new location at Gotta Have It Antiques on Wednesday; and East Asheville Tailgate Market reopens on Tunnel Rd. on Friday. ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market continue their seasons on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively. 

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Farmers tailgate markets are readying tents for a new season—and those that have continued through the winter are welcoming back farms and other food vendors. At these early spring markets, you will find much of the produce we’ve seen through the winter, like cold-hardy greens and tender salad mixes. But you can also start to look for spring alliums and more root veggies coming in. As always, you can also get mushrooms, eggs, meat, cheese, bread, and prepared foods. A wide variety of plant starts will be available over the next few months. 

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farmers market goods

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with Catherine Campbell, founder of Asheville Strong, about why she shops at farmers markets and what she’s looking forward to this spring. Last month Asheville Strong released a print edition of its cookbook featuring recipes from local chefs and restaurants. Proceeds benefit the Feed Our City program, which helps preserve local restaurant jobs by paying for employees to cook meals for community members in need. Buy a copy here. 

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Spring officially begins tomorrow and it’s easy to get impatient for all that the season will bring. Signs of spring tend to start slowly at farmers tailgate markets—a glimpse of green garlic and spring onions here, a bit of flowering rabe there. We’re still a ways off from ramps, asparagus, or strawberries. But these last few markets of the winter season still have plenty to offer. 

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As sunny days increase and the temperatures rise (mostly) above freezing, many of us are itching to start our own garden plots. In addition to offering an abundance of local food, farmers tailgate markets are also a great place to get plant starts or even pick up a few gardening tips.

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sunchokes

Feeling like you want to break out of your vegetable mold? Winter farmers markets offer more variety than ever these days, thanks to innovative farmers and shopper demand, but this end-of-winter season can still start to feel like a sea of winter greens and radishes. But if you were looking closely, you might have noticed a few less common items on market tables in the past few weeks.

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sweet potato gnocchi

Feeling a bit in the doldrums these days? Could you use good a pick-me-up? It might be time to indulge in some comfort food—particularly some super colorful superfood comfort from a winter farmers market. We’re talking about making sweet potato gnocchi.

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KP Whaley, photo by Camilla Calnan

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with KP Whaley of Tiny Bridge Farm, a five-acre diversified farm in Henderson County offering produce through local farmers markets and a CSA.

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