WNC Farmers Market
offers a Cornucopia of Food
We head to the WNC Farmers Market when we want to find specialty items like heirloom tomatoes and our favorite cheese, mountain preserves and cider, or to buy large quantities of in-season produce at a bargain price.One of the best things about the WNC Farmers Market is that it is open every day of the year. Restaurants, grocery stores and locals all shop here too, arriving in droves in the morning to buy farm fresh produce, garden plants, baked goods, meats and condiments.
Getting around the Farmers Market
With 36 acres and 14 large buildings, your first visit can be a bit overwhelming. As you drive in, there is a garden center to your left, and two huge retail buildings with produce, gift items and regional crafts on your right. Further along there are truck sheds with space for 200 farmers and dealers who offer fresh fruits and vegetables, often with quantity-discount pricing. These wholesale produce dealers sell larger quantities primarily to restaurants and grocery stores, but also sell direct to the public.
Most first time visitors head to the two retail buildings (on your right as you enter). The selection is seemingly endless, with two dozen or so small shop-owners selling a huge variety of fresh produce, flowers, nuts, jams, jellies, preserves and handcrafts from their booths. This is the place to shop for small quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, gifts and regional specialty items. Look for heritage tomatoes, muscadine jelly and cider, country ham, Amish butter, sourwood honey, and much more. You will also see mountain handcrafts and craft-foods, such as Smoky Mountain hot pickled okra and applewood smoked salt.
The Small Farmers and Wholesale Market
Nowadays, we visit the WNC Farmers Market for fresh produce when the weekly tailgate markets aren't running and for real deals on larger quantities of produce. For both of these we drive past the two retail buildings and head first into the wholesale area. Farmers and dealers sell from their trucks in the wholesale area, with space for 200 trucks. This is a busy, bustling place where restaurants, grocers and bulk-buyers shop, and so can you.
We usually start at the left side of the grounds and visit the local certified Small Farmers Truck Shed first. This is the place to find the really farm-fresh produce. There is room for only 32 trucks here, and this is the only place in the WNC Farmers Market where you know for certain that you are buying direct from the farmer.
The nearby open-sided truck sheds offer wholesale pricing on quantity purchases of fruits and vegetables year round. This is where we come to buy beans for freezing or a bushel of apples for making applesauce. You can buy apples by the half-bushel, full bushel or truck-load, with many different varieties to choose from. A full cornucopia of vegetables, including carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes and lots more, can be found here.
At the height of peach and watermelon season, the trucks offering these fruits for sale just park in the open field behind the retail buildings. Regional farmers sell their farm produce side-by-side with distributors reselling produce from outside of North Carolina, so ask before you buy if you prefer to purchase North Carolina produce. Most of this produce is grown by large commercial farms using conventional techniques, so if organic is important to you, shop carefully.
In addition to the retail buildings and the wholesale area there is the large, bustling Jesse Israel & Sons Nursery & Garden Center, which offers a huge selection of garden-themed gifts and wind chimes as well as trees, plants and seeds for the garden. As avid gardeners, this is one of our favorite places. We enjoy looking at the flowering plants, wandering into the greenhouse to see the houseplants, indoor trees and delicate orchids. And we often find something here to take home and tuck into that empty space in the garden.
If you are wondering if Asheville has farmers markets that are, well, smaller and more personal, the answer is yes. They are known as Tailgate Markets, and these once-weekly farmers markets are a lot of fun. We often shop at a neighborhood Tailgate Market for fresh organic in-season produce and to talk with neighbors and the friendly farmers who bring their fresh fruits and vegetables to the neighborhood Asheville farmer markets.
Good Eats and Nearby Attractions
If country cooking made with fresh ingredients from the Farmer's Market sounds good, then you'll want to stop in the legendary Moose Cafe at the entrance to the WNC Farmers Market. Families come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner to enjoy their famous hot biscuits served with apple butter, giant pancakes, huge platters of food, friendly service and reasonable prices.
You can also head into West Asheville and have lunch at Burgermeister's for a gourmet burger, sandwich or salad. Or, if you want a fresh, creative organic meal, stop in at SunnyPoint Cafe and sit out on the patio. After lunch you can explore West Asheville, one of the most creative, innovative and green neighborhoods in the city.
To drive to West Asheville from the Western North Carolina Farmers Market, turn right out of the parking lot and head north on Hwy 191. Then turn right when you reach Haywood Road into the center of West Asheville.
WNC Farmers Market Visitor Information
- To get to the Western North Carolina Farmers Market, take exit 47 off of I-40 and head south on Hwy 191, Brevard Road, for a short distance. The Moose Cafe and the WNC Farmers Market will be on your left.
- The WNC Farmers Market is open daily, from 8am - 6pm April - October, and from 8am - 5pm November - March. There is no charge to visit the Western North Carolina Farmers Market.
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