By Peyton Sheehan
Fresh, local and organic produce has never been closer than the P28 parking lot on campus. From April to November, on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, the North Asheville Tailgate Market features around 40 different local or nearly local vendors.
Small family owned farm Full Sun Farms is possibly one of the longest attending vendors, attending every Saturday for the past 20 years.
“The owners, Alex and Vanessa, grow everything you see here and practice organic methods. They, of course, pick everything fresh,” intern Tyler Rich said.
Alex and Vanessa strive to provide beautiful and tasty produce to sell at the market.
Full Sun Farms’ booth is filled with beautiful organic produce with vibrant colors and different options for fresh bouquets of flowers including dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias and other mixed bouquets.
The smells of fresh brewed coffee and fresh baked pastries linger through the parking lot. Owner of Sweetheart Bakery, Aimee Mostwill, supports local farms by buying organic ingredients to create Sweetheart Bakery’s pastries and other baked goods.
While walking around, one may notice fresh produce, baked goods and flowers are not the only things available. Fresh eggs, raw milk, jams, grass-fed meats and many others are also available for purchase.
Joe Scott is the owner of Postre Caramels. If you have ever gone to Whit’s Frozen Custard on Merrimon, you might have noticed tubes of their sea salt caramel sauce.
“I set up a booth at the tailgate market every other weekend,” Scott said.
According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, buying local produce or flowers not only supports local farmers, but also helps them compete with large grocery stores. Some of the produce found in grocery stores travels an average of 1,500 miles contributing to more pollution and more natural resources being used.
A majority of these vendors also put up a sign near their products that state whether or not they are organic.
By committing to local goods, shoppers connect with and give back to their communities. Through the center, visitors wander from booth-to-booth, some stop to speak to each other, enjoy the music and most importantly support local farmers and vendors.
The tailgate market is open until Nov. 18