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FARMERS MARKETS

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Never out of season

Our visits to 3 markets find fall fruits and veggies moving in, with winter crops not far behind

By Kathleen Purvis
Food Editor

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  • Our local food scene has taken off at the farmers markets. From Davidson to Yorkmont Road, people are finding farmers and building connections with local food.

    And that won't stop with the first heavy frost. For a full list of farmers markets around the region, go to

    www.charlotteobserver.com/food.

    The Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, 1801 Yorkmont Road, off South Tryon Street. Sunday hours end in August, but the market stays open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday all year.

    The Matthews Community Farmers' Market, on North Trade Street in Matthews, continues through Thanksgiving. Then it will close briefly, take down the tents, and reopen as a tailgate market every other week starting in December.

    The market experimented with every-other-week winter hours last year and was overwhelmed by demand. This year, manager Pauline Wood expects more farmers who have planted more fall and winter crops.

    Winter hours are 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays every other week. The easiest way to keep up with the schedule is to go to www.matthewsfarmersmarket.com and sign up for Wood's e-mail newsletter.

    The Charlotte Tailgate Farmers Market, at West Park Avenue and Camden Road in South End, hasn't set a closing date, says manager Lynn Caldwell. She's working with vendors to see how long they'll have produce.

    But she definitely plans to repeat last year's Christmas tree market, which starts in early November. That features freshly cut trees from Ashe County and some artisans and farmers.

    Caldwell also added chef demonstrations that will start this week and continue through early fall.



So long, tomatoes. Corn, it was sweet.

And cantaloupes – we'll see you again next July.

Summer is shifting into fall at local farmers markets. Pumpkins, apples and scuppernongs have started to nudge their way in among the dwindling green beans and peaches.

But that doesn't mean it's time to put away your market baskets. The crowds of shoppers drop off after Labor Day, but the food doesn't stop coming. If anything, it gets even more interesting.

A few weeks ago, photographer Gary O'Brien and I made a visit to three local markets, video camera in hand. We wanted to capture a typical Saturday morning and to show the difference in style between three markets – the Matthews Community Farmers' Market, the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market and the Charlotte Tailgate Market.

We also caught the markets at their height, when tables were bursting and the aisles were popping with people.

For a look at our trips, go to www.charlotteobserver.com/food. And for a rundown on fall and winter plans at several local markets, see Page 6E.

In the meantime, stay hungry. Greens, carrots and winter squash are just ahead.

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