The Asheville area is well known for its farm-to-table cuisine – but what if you want the farm without the table? Whether you’re staying in a rental property with a full kitchen and looking to do your own cooking or just hoping to pick up some fresh local food products to take home, the many local farmers markets have you covered.
Want some produce from the same farms that supply your favorite local restaurants? Not a problem – and you might even get to see some of the best area chefs while you’re at it (although most restaurants have private accounts with their farm suppliers, a handful of top local chefs still like to shop the markets). The range of vegetables, fruit, legumes, and even grains available at area farmers markets is truly astounding. But there’s more to the markets than just produce. You can also find a wide variety of meat and poultry, eggs, seafood fresh from the NC coast, flowers, baked goods from sweet to savory, an impressive variety of cheeses, herbal remedies, cleaning products, soaps, pottery and glass, plants, and prepared food products, including honey, hot sauce, pickles and other fermented fare, and fresh pasta. Many markets also offer take-and-heat meals as well as to-go goodies from food trucks and other vendors. Basically, if you’ve come to the area to get fresh (food), your trip isn’t complete without an excursion to a farmers market!
Due to Covid-19, most markets have heightened safety protocols and have scaled back a bit but are still offering a terrific array of products. Preferred payment is generally credit cards, but cash (exact change preferred) and in most cases EBP/SNAP are also accepted.
Any discussion of fresh food and area farmers markets has to start with the organization that supports them all: the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT (ASAP)
ASAP is a nonprofit whose mission is to help area farms by linking them to local farmers markets and supporters. ASAP supports, and in some cases directly runs, over 100 farmers markets (also known as tailgate markets) throughout Western North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Visit ASAP’s website for a full listing of area markets, their hours of operation, and their offerings.
Some of the most popular markets in the Asheville area include the following:
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ASAP FARMERS MARKET
Saturdays, 9am—12 noon year round
When the Asheville City Market and all other local markets closed due to Covid-19 safety concerns, ASAP recognized the massive desire for fresh, local produce and organized a new market on the grounds of AB Tech Community College. Although many local markets have since reopened, the City Market hasn’t, so the ASAP Market remains an excellent option, with many of City Market’s usual vendors.
NORTH ASHEVILLE TAILGATE MARKET
Saturdays, 8am—12 noon May 2—Nov 21
If you’re looking for Asheville’s oldest producer only market, head up to the UNC Asheville campus on Saturday morning. With over 40 members offering a wide range of products, the North Asheville Tailgate Market is a magnificent local resource. Note that this market has a dedicated following, so it can sometimes get a bit crowded, especially when it first opens. Arriving a little later will give you a bit more breathing room and still provide an excellent selection of local produce and products.
WEST ASHEVILLE TAILGATE MARKET
Tuesdays, 3:30—6:30pm Apr 7—Nov 24
Voted the best weekday market in WNC, West Asheville Tailgate Market is as fun and funky as West Asheville itself. Boasting live music and free kid’s activities every week, this market is always a great option.
RIVER ARTS DISTRICT (RAD) FARMERS MARKET
Wednesdays, 3-6pm May 6—Nov 25 (winter market Dec 4—Apr 29)
If your travels take you to the studios and shops of the RAD, be sure to check out this market. It’s a local favorite and a bit of a hidden weekday gem.