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persimmons from Lee's One Fortune Farm

Are you a handmade gift-giver? Farmers tailgate markets are a great place to get inspiration and ingredients for these extra-special holiday gifts (or treats to keep for yourself—you definitely deserve it). Here are a few DIY ideas to get your started this season.

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cauliflower

Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage, and other brassicas have returned to farmers tailgate markets for the fall. These crops make a quick appearance in late spring and early summer, then fade away over the hottest part of the season, returning when the days lengthen and evenings start to cool off. Cruciferous vegetables can make wonderful, hearty comfort food dishes that actually impart a few health benefits as well (like high levels of vitamins C and K). 

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watermelon radishes from Ten Mile Farm

The weather continues to defy autumn’s arrival, but cooler-weather crops are arriving at farmers tailgate markets, including fresh root vegetables like radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips.

Watermelon radishes are a particularly fun find right now, spotted at both Ten Mile Farm (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market) and Headwaters Market Garden (Asheville City Market). These heirloom varieties of the daikon are all business on the outside and party on the inside, with fuschia cores rimmed in white and lime green, reminiscent of their namesake. You can snack on them or use them as a dipper as you would other varieties of radish, but their bright centers beg for a pretty presentation. Here are a few suggestions.

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We never fail to get excited about the fact that we can get locally grown rice in the Western North Carolina mountains. Lee’s One Fortune Farm has had its fall harvest available in limited quantities for the past couple of weeks at many farmers tailgate markets, including purple and brown rice varieties. The flavor of rice this fresh elevates even the simplest preparations, but Korean bibimbap is a dish that can really highlight all the best of your market haul.

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jicama from Lee's One Fortune Farm at East Asheville Tailgate Market

With the long holiday weekend ended, the first few weeks of school gone by, and the days definitely getting a little shorter, it’s easy to feel especially pressed for time in September. You might be shopping at farmers tailgate markets with the best intentions, but time to prepare meals is elusive. With fall crops starting to mingle with the best of summer produce still available, though, now is a great time to try some grab-and-go produce, whether for snacking or tucking into school lunches. 

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watermelon and cantaloupe from Ten Mile Farm

Watermelons and cantaloupe are starting to come in at farmers tailgate markets, which lend themselves particularly well to no-cook meals for muggy mountain evenings. There are plenty of nights we might just slice up a melon and call it dinner, but if you’re ready to take it up a notch, try these chilled soup ideas.

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kohlrabi

This week has felt like the apex of summer, though on the farm the season’s harvest is just moving into high gear. After one of the wettest years in recent memory, farmers are compensating for unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of rain right now. But that hasn’t stopped new produce from making its way to farmers tailgate markets.

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Spring onions at farmers markets

Memorial Day marks the unofficial kickoff to summer (even if by the calendar we’re still four weeks out) and, just in time, summer squash has made its first market appearances. We spotted baby zephyr, zucchini, and pattypan varieties this past week from Olivette Farm (Asheville City Market) and Full Sun Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market), and more farms will have it soon.

Other seasonal finds picking up speed are spring alliums. Wondering about the differences between all the spring onions, scallions, leeks, green garlic, and garlic scapes filling up market tables? Here’s a quick rundown.

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rainbow chard

Are there colors you associate with different seasons at farmers tailgate markets? The vivid reds, yellows, and purples of summer tomatoes, crookneck squash, and eggplant? The deep golds and dark greens of fall pumpkins and kale? Shades of spring—pink, yellow-orange, and emerald green—are starting perk up market tents.

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red sorrel

More harbingers of spring showed up at markets around the region this past weekend. One such pioneer is sorrel, which Jake’s Farm at Asheville City Market-Winter has had for the past two weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

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