We love farmer's markets. Really. We are aficiandos (aka snobs) of sorts. It seems strange, but market visiting is what we tend to do as our touristy thing in almost every city we visit. Out of the markets we visit, we also prefer the locally-focused, producer markets. No resellers, most everyone tends to know everyone else and in general folks are friendly and quick to chat even with strangers.
The details above may explain why Wayne and I have been so excited to be a small part of the growth of Atherton Mill and Market in Charlotte. The market manager, Lynn, has clear ideas about the focus of the market and aims to build the space into a one stop shopping location for area residents as well as building a reputation as a tourist destination for all the other farmer's market aficiandos like us.
A few weekends ago, Wayne and I were able to attend the market together to work our booth. This rarely happens, so I took quick advantage of the situation and wandered off with my camera. I wanted to provide an example of the variety of goods one can find at the market on any given day.
First and foremost, there are plenty of farmers. Produce brings people to markets and the selection at Atherton is always gorgeous.
These little white cucs are my all time favorite:
Swiss chard has such vibrant colors
Vidalias onions (this photo was perfectly put together by John who saw me poking around with the camera and decided to participate.
Need some wine to go with dinner (or lunch)? The Vinmaster Wine shop is usually on hand and is happy to provide samples and make recommendations.
The Chosen Roaster sells a variety of nuts and has a make-your-own trail mix setup.
Eggs abound all year. I prefer local eggs. The taste and nutritional content just doesn't compare with grocery store options. Plus, farmers markets eggs are always prettier.
Duke's Bread always offers an amazing selection of breads and accompaniments. Come early as they frequently sell out. I'm a huge fan of their tomato oil.
Simply Local offers a variety of items that can't be found elsewhere in the market. Everything is local, and has been vouched through the owner before being sold. We've bought yummy crackers from them several times already and next week we plan to try out the rice that was grown just around the corner in Morganton.
Ohh-lio Express offers yummy wines, vinegars, and a selection of other treats.
And, a requirement for most early morning shoppers, Monks always has a yummy blend brewing. They sell iced coffee and teas this time of year, and offer their beans for sale as well.
A few of the foods not pictured? How about sweets from Cardais Gourmet, meat from Windy Hill Farm, Seafood from the Charlotte Fish Guy, honey from Cloister, various teas from Urbana, and loads of milk & dairy products from Simply Local.
Of course, there are non-food related items of interest as well. I got lucky and caught a quick picture of someone playing the violin. He was awfully good and made me quite jealous of his talent.
Outside Clothesline Candy can be found selling adorable aprons, dresses, and skirts most Saturdays.
And the balloon guy! Between him and the kid's zone at the back of the market, there is a never ending source of entertainment for all the kids who are wandering through.
Oh, and you can buy soap too! :) Here's my Wayne in all his smiling glory. Our booth has recently changed, but I had to include this picture all the same.
Did I tempt you? For all the locals, we hope to see you at Atherton soon. For those not around our area of NC, I hope you use this post as inspiration to visit your local farmer's market. Get to know your farmers and small business owners. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Support them. You'll make new friends around every turn, and your community will be stronger for it.