Spring is often a season of transformation:
We begin to see flowers and leaves return to trees and the days become warmer and longer. It is this transformation that allows local farmers to begin producing local, fresh fruits and vegetables! It’s no secret that including fruits and vegetables in our diets is a great way to improve upon our health, and what better way to include them than visiting your local farmers market? If improving your health and paying a visit to your local farmers market sounds like your kind of jam (no pun intended), then keep reading to find out how we can take advantage of local produce this season!
Charlotte, NC has a long history of agriculture, and we can still find local farms and markets producing great food to this day. One of these markets happens to be the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market and Amie Newsom, the market manager, was kind enough to sit down and talk to us about some of the excellent things their market has going on this spring!
Chris: “So Amie: as we move into the spring season, what kinds of things should we expect to find at your market?”
Amie: “Our vendors have a really diverse offering, but some of the things you can expect will be fresh local produce, cut flowers, nursery plants, baked goods, prepared foods, meats, seafood, concession foods, vegan options, gluten free options, crafts, exotic produce like dragon fruit, jack fruit, pineapples, etc.”
Chris: “Those all sound amazing! I wanted to hear your standpoint on why your customers like to choose to come to a farmers’ market versus the grocery store?”
Amie: “There are plenty of reasons to shop at a farmers’ market! One of the most important is that you are getting to support local small businesses and family-owned farms which means they are a great way to build relationships with people in the community. You can also learn about where your food is coming from and talk to the producers (farmer or baker). With the beautiful spring weather it’s also a great way to enjoy the outdoors while shopping. They are a great place to talk with people and learn new ways to cook, or new interesting foods to try as well as tasting the products which many vendors offer. Our vendors are also experts in the things they offer so you can also learn about different items like Asian fruits and vegetables, vegan prepared foods, etc.”
Chris: “I love that you can offer an opportunity to not only try new things but also learn a lot while you’re there too! One thing that kept coming up as well was the importance of community at a market, How does your market and farmers markets in general help the local community and the planet?”
Amie: “Since all of our vendors are local, it’s a great way to support small family-owned businesses from both North and South Carolina. We also put a big emphasis on recycling, particularly all the cardboard used to hold items. We also have a lot of vendors that just want to help the local community so a lot of our products that don’t get sold will be donated to local food pantry organizations.”
While it was great to hear from one of our local markets, even if you don’t live close enough to go to Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, there is a great tool you can use to help find a more convenient one. North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture has a great resource to help you locate your new favorite produce spot, just click here to go to their directory that allows you to search for markets by county.
So now that we found a market to visit, what kinds of things can we expect to find? While all markets are different there are a few things that are pretty commonly found. Fresh fruits and vegetables are almost always abundant and in the spring it is easy to find asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, herbs, assorted greens like spinach, strawberries, and melons just to name a few. For even more information on fruits and vegetables you can expect to find, the NC Department of Agriculture has a great chart that will tell you everything in season which can be found here. Other great things that you may find are fresh, cage-free eggs, local honey, arts and crafts, and personal care items. The best way to find out what they have is to simply go and see for yourself!