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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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As a new flock of hens starts to lay, their first eggs are smaller, with firmer whites and more deeply colored yolks, than regular eggs. Not to be dismissed, these pullet eggs boast a richer flavor and creamier texture. For the next few weeks, these will be the only eggs available from Dry Ridge Farm at the ASAP Farmers Market. It’s a great chance to try something truly unique to farmers markets, as grocery stores stick to uniform, regulation sizes.

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If ever there was a year to channel all of your romantic energy into cooking a fancy meal at home, this is it. Get what you need on Saturday at ASAP Farmers Market or, if you want to celebrate on a different day or make a series of Valentine’s week meals, shop at River Arts District Farmers Market on Wednesday. Of course, the ideal menu is totally subjective, so adapt as you want, but here’s our take on a classic Valentine’s Day market dinner. 

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Radishes are widely available at winter farmers markets, but can often be overlooked as a raw salad component, taco condiment, or pop of color on a crudité spread. Those uses are all great, of course, but these cruciferous veggies are also fantastic cooked. Here are some ideas to take advantage of a variety of radishes available at markets now.

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bread from hominy farm, photo by Camilla Calnan Photography

Many of us are trying to limit our trips to the grocery store these days as we continue or ramp up COVID-19 precautions. Winter farmers markets are a great opportunity to shop for fresh food in an open-air environment. But picking up long-lasting staples each time you visit can also help you stretch your meal planning a bit longer—especially with a few leftover-friendly recipe ideas.

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collards and kale

With regular snow dustings, we’re settling into soup season—a great time for farmers tailgate market meals. With just a few local ingredients, you can create something warm and nourishing to carry you through chilly afternoons. Add some crusty bread and a salad green mix to make a full family-sized meal.

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