These days “local” seems like just another buzzword, as universally popular as “organic,” “grass-fed,” and “sustainable.” It tends to fall indiscriminately in with a miscellany of trendy terms recently adopted by youthful beatniks. But in Asheville, we’ve been doing the “local” thing since way before it was cool. Take, for example, the WNC Farmers Market.
Nestled in the crook of mountains between I-40 and I-26, the 36-acre market hosts dozens of local farmers and artisans daily—and has done since 1977. The set-up is simple—open air buildings and scuffed wooden booths—allowing the wares, and their peddlers, to shine.
Stroll through the warm and windswept aisles and allow your eyes to feast on the rainbow of colors, your mouth on the bevy of farm-fresh produce, and your ears on the gentle drawl of our local farmers. Beveled jars hand-filled with crimson jam, rusty beets and dirt-speckled carrots, vats of golden honey and creamy butter that melts the color of sunshine. Every item tells an Asheville kind of story (and most of them are as delightful as the product itself).
You’ll find many of the same merchants here day after day, week after week, catching up on local lore and sharing their own stories. Many of them represent the archetypal farmer, decked in overalls and a smile, but there’s a surprising diversity of community here—much like Asheville itself. There’s a new generation of agriculturalists and makers too, in jeans and dresses (but always with that signature Asheville smile). Regardless of their age or garb, they’re local, as much a part of the community as you or I.
There’s a pride of place that pervades Asheville, and it shines brightest at timeless places like the Farmers Market, where folks don’t just use words like “local” as marketing slogans, but as genuine and dignified markers of “home.” Local truly lives here: in the sunbleached booths at the WNC Farmers Market, in the bricked storefronts of downtown, and in the very creeks and forested slopes of our mountains. It always has done, and it always will.