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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

It has been a light year for honey, according to apiaries at area farmers tailgate markets. Honey has always been a special, prized treat in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, but on a year such as this — drought-like conditions scattered throughout the growing season — it is even more dear.

Dan deBettencourt of Swarm Apiary (find him at Asheville City Market) says that the dry weather made the late-summer production of honey from basswood and sourwood trees minimal, and so the bees began to eat their stores of honey from the Spring. That, combined with splitting several of his hives to prevent swarming, resulted in a much lower yield of honey this year than last — Dan said he has half the honey, but twice the number of bees. While some beekeepers time their harvest with the bloom from specific trees and plants, Swarm Apiary does not separate the crops of honey, and Dan describes the result as “delicious, due to this mosaic fusion of flavors.”

If you want to taste what the differentiated honey harvests taste like, look for Jon Christie of Wild Mountain Bees, at North Asheville Tailgate Market. He has two main varieties: Wildflower (spring crop, primarily from black locust, tulip poplar, and wild berry blooms) and Sourwood (late summer harvest from Basswood, Sourwood, and Sumac.)

Honey production from small farms here in the mountains is connected to the unique collection of plants in the area, and so each vendor’s honey is uniquely flavored. Check your local tailgate market to find out more about honey vendors, such as Bee Tree Farm at East Asheville Tailgate Market and Black Mountain Tailgate Market, and Sweet Betty Bees at Madison County Farmers Market.

Honey and apples make a great afternoon snack. Be sure to pick up early varieties of apples from the market when you get your honey. B & L Organics has wonderful mountain heirloom apples bursting with crisp flavor, such as Fall Pippens, and other varieties depending on availability each week. Look for B & L at West Asheville Tailgate Market and North Asheville Tailgate Market.

For a complete list of Appalachian Grown™ certified tailgate markets browse ASAP’s online Local Food Guide or the online farmers market calendar.

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