Cooler temperatures aren’t the only reasons to visit the mountains this weekend.Visitors to the WNC Farmers Market will get a chance to sample and vote for their favorite variety of locally grown tomatoes in the annual Tomato Tasting celebration Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Everything from Mr. Stripey and Mountain Fresh to Carolina Gold and Cherokee Purple will be available to try, and a crowd favorite will be named. Last year, Cherokee Purple was named favorite variety, but you never know what will win over people’s tastebuds this year.
While you’re in Asheville, be sure to pick up some tomatoes to take home. Market vendors also will have a good selection of watermelon, cantaloupes and peaches, and a smaller supply of squash and cucumbers. There are still plenty of summer plants in the nursery area and you can enjoy a nice meal at the Moose Cafe. If you’re there Saturday, bring your gardening questions with you because Master Gardeners will be on hand to offer free advice from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This group of trained volunteers can give you tips on growing plants, identifying insects and managing plant diseases.
The WNC Farmers Market is one of five state-operated markets in North Carolina. Markets are also located in Colfax, Charlotte, Raleigh and Lumberton. Here’s what you can expect to find at those markets this weekend:
- Piedmont Triad Farmers Market: No special events are scheduled, but vendors will have watermelon, corn, tomatoes, cantaloupes and squash. A new vendor selling N.C. seafood has set up shop in the retail building. Consumers can enjoy fresh flounder, mahi mahi, tuna, crabs and shrimp caught off the coast of North Carolina. The vendor rounds out a great selection of non-perishable food available in the retail building.
- Charlotte Regional Farmers Market: About 120 vendors are expected over the weekend selling a variety of summer produce. The market will be full of tomatoes, corn and peaches. In the greenery shed, you can still find cut flowers, perennials and shrubs.
- State Farmers Market: WPTF-AM’s “Weekend Gardener” radio show will broadcast live from the State Farmers Market Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Guests can get their gardening questions answered on-air, take home some free prizes and sample miniature ham biscuits from the State Farmers Market Restaurant. In the market, stop by for a variety of watermelons, cantaloupes, corn, tomatoes, muscadine grapes, apples and other summer produce.
- Southeastern N.C. Farmers Market: In Lumberton, you can enjoy an array of locally grown, late-summer produce this weekend. Some craft vendors also will be set up to sell their wares.