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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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butternut squash

For a stress-free Thanksgiving, making a plan and doing as much prep work in advance is the way to go. That means you should start your farmers tailgate market list now, and even get some of the shopping out of the way, rather than wait for the mad rush on the final pre-holiday weekend. (Although if you do find you need to do some last-minute shopping, West Asheville Tailgate Market is open on Tuesday and River Arts District Farmers Market is open on Wednesday the week of Thanksgiving.)

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romanesco

This time of year is all about vibrant displays of winter squash, pumpkins, apples, and other fall superstars at farmers tailgate markets. Late summer’s abundance continues through these chillier days, and most vendors are loaded up with dark leafy greens like collards, chard, and kale; root veggies like beets, carrots, and turnips; and tubers like sweet potatoes and potatoes. But there are also a few less-common items we’ve spotted over the past few weeks that deserve to be sought out as well. 
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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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Peppers are really coming into their own at farmers tailgate markets right now. These bright nightshades can vary so much in flavor, heat, color, size, and texture. Asking the farmer about the varieties they’re growing is a great way to learn about new types and get tips on how you might prepare them. 

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figs

Your favorite peak summer produce—tomatoes, corn, peppers, melons, peaches, blackberries, beans, okra, eggplant—is still filling the tables at farmers tailgate markets. We have a month or two more to enjoy these items. But there are hints of seasonal change in the air.

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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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assorted beans at farmers markets

Baskets of beans are starting to crowd farmers tailgate market tables. Common green beans, yellow wax beans, or deep purple burgundy beans are all great, versatile ingredients, whether you’re sautéeing a side dish, adding them to a salad, or preserving for later use. But here are a few specific varieties we’ve been excited to find in recent weeks.

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tomatoes

The first tomatoes have arrived at farmers tailgate markets! If you acted quickly this past week, you may have snagged an early variety from Thatchmore Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market), Full Sun Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market), Olivette Farm, or Headwaters Market Garden (both at Asheville City Market).

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