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Farmers' Market to Table

 
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“By ten o'clock, the sidewalk along Vine Street looks like the Fourth of July parade. Mama minds the cash box while Daddy and Mitch go to haul more tomatoes and peppers from the truck. The basket of beans is almost empty, so I fill it up again,” reflects Paul Brett Johnson his children’s book “Farmers' Market.”

farmers-market-produce.jpgThis is sweet, familiar scene in downtown parking lots and community gathering spaces throughout the country. Our family’s favorite way to begin the weekend is by heading out to the North Asheville Tailgate Market on Saturday mornings. The coffee from Mountain Air Roasting is always hot and tasty. We love sampling delicious French-style cheeses from Three Grace’s Dairy. And no visit is complete without picking up an apricot croissant to share from Farm & Sparrow.

We love getting to know local farmers and filling our Bolga Basket with produce fresh from the field. Selections of squash, eggplant, kale, tomatoes, salad greens, apples, and berries overflow from the basket like a Thanksgiving horn of plenty. We also enjoy picking up specialty items like meat, eggs, honey, and fresh flowers.

north-avl-farmers-market-kindermusik.jpgGoing to market is a wonderful weekly event for every member of the family, not only because we get to know the fine folks who grow our food, but there’s always a variety of activities to enjoy. Most weeks there’s live music serenading us as we shop. Activities like sing alongs and making crafts give the children a chance to learn a new skill and socialize while parents enjoy visiting with each other, too. Cooking demonstrations feature the best of the season’s harvest and offer helpful tips for new ways to use your produce.

With school back in session, a popular go-to recipe for our farm fresh tomatoes and basil is this quick and easy Tomato Pie recipe:

Layer in the following order:
Ready-made pie crust laid in bottom of pie pan (some bread vendors sell ready-made crusts at market)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella (save a pinch for the top of the pie)
fresh chopped basil
sliced and patted dry tomatoes (overlap in a circular pattern)
salt and pepper to taste

alaina-drawdy-cox-market-tomatoes.jpgAdd a layer of shredded cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 350° oven until brown and bubbly, let cool, and enjoy!

For more recipe ideas to incorporate your farmers’ market goodies, we enjoy Mast Store Cooks: From Potluck Dinners to Potbelly Stove, tested and written by folks from Mast General Store, and Sheri Castle’s The New Southern Garden Cookbook.

From the Market Square Farmers’ Market in Knoxville, Tennessee to the TD Saturday Market in Greenville, South Carolina, make some time this weekend to experience the freshness and beauty of the country without ever leaving the city. We hope to see you there!