These can be weeks of whiplash as the temperature swings from tantalizingly warm to hard freeze. Is it time to look for seed starts, or hunker down with a hearty stew and fridge full of provisions in case of a snow day?
The slower shoulder season is a good time to ask your favorite farmers tailgate market vendors about what they might have in coming weeks. As storage crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash begin to wane, you’re likely to see an uptick in greens, including salad green mixes, baby kale, microgreens, and pea shoots.
This past week Lee’s One Fortune Farm had the first sugar snap peas of the season at Asheville City Market-Winter, though you’ll have to act fast to get them as they’re likely to run out quickly. (Snow peas, which the farm has had for a month or so, are a good consolation prize.) Olivette Farm introduced beautiful bunches of turnip flowers—think broccoli raab crossed with Hakurei turnips.
Now is also a great time to talk to farmers that offer CSAs—or Community Supported Agriculture—to see if it’s a good fit for you. As a CSA member, you pay upfront in the spring to receive a weekly box (or “share”) of produce or other farm goods throughout the season. Most of the CSA farms in our area will have a pickup location at one of Asheville’s weekly farmers tailgate markets once they start up in the spring. If you’re already a dedicated market shopper, this can be a convenient way to get your produce as well as make a stronger commitment to a local farm.
Several farms at Asheville City Market-Winter offer CSAs, so you can get the conversation started now. Both Olivette and Ten Mile Farm offer traditional 20-week CSAs as well as market-style CSAs, which are a bit more like shopping as you normally would at a farmers tailgate market, but with a prepaid account at a single farm. Olivette is also partnering with Burial Beer Co. for a unique beer share add-on. Carolina Flowers sells a monthly flower subscription, similar to a CSA, that’s available in three-, six-, or 12-month packages.
Want to connect with more CSA farms in the area and learn about available options? Attend ASAP’s CSA Fair next Thursday, March 14, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at New Belgium Brewing Co.
In addition to produce, winter markets continue to offer staple goods like eggs, bread, cheese, meats, fish, ferments, pickles, baked goods, and more. Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.