In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Western North Carolinians have found themselves drawn to local farmers markets, both in an effort to shop outdoors for personal safety and to help support local farmers, whose incomes have been disrupted due to restaurant closures. “There has been, for the past two decades, a rising interest in local food, and I think this is just one more piece of that trend,” says Sarah Hart, communications coordinator for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, which runs two markets of its own and helps organize and promote around 100 more across Western North Carolina and the mountains of Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Hart notes that of the 14 markets in WNC that run through the winter, most of them will remain outdoors this year due to concerns over the coronavirus. “It just seems like the safest alternative,” she says. “It will be cold, but we’ll be okay.”
To cut down on time spent out in the chilly weather, locals might consider signing up for a winter CSA, many of which are available for pick up at regional farmers markets, still leaving the opportunity to browse the market for additional victuals. Hart shares, “Hopefully it’s just a weird year and things will go back to normal, but it’s hard to know how long this will all take.”
To Market We Go
Find info on holiday and winter farmers markets, including days and hours of operation, at asapconnections.org.