The most interesting thing about the food scene in Charlotte isn’t how we cook our barbecue or what kind of sauce we use on it.
For the past few years, the most interesting thing about food around here has been who’s growing it. Thanks to a mild climate, all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables are grown here all year, giving Charlotte and the region around it a thriving local-food scene.
While farmers markets are packed in the summer, we now have enough farms and food to keep going year-round, stocked by people who are crazy in love with making high-quality food, from bread bakers to pasta makers, from cheesemakers to honey gatherers.
Here are six markets where you can find real tastes of Charlotte all year. For a list of farmers markets all over the region, as well as pick-your-own farms with fall foods like apples and pumpkins, go to www.charlotteobserver.com/food. We keep lists posted that we update every spring.
Atherton Market, 2104 South Blvd., near South Boulevard and Tremont Avenue. This has become the little market that does a lot. Manager Lynn Shanklin Caldwell’s vision has shaped a thriving urban market with local farmers and vendors who sell everything from great seafood to locally gathered honey. Simply Local stocks foods from all over North Carolina, like Bertie County peanuts and Homeland Creamery milk. The hours are always expanding; at the moment, it’s 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Details: Atherton Mill and Market on www.facebook.com.
Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, 1801 Yorkmont Road. This market, located near Billy Graham Parkway and Charlotte Douglas International Airport, is part of the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s market system. It has a wide selection, from plants and crafts to the food buildings. While some of the vendors are resellers who bring in food from other areas, Saturday mornings are a big time to find locally raised or made food, from fruits and vegetables to pasture-raised beef. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday (closes at 5 p.m. October-March; open Sunday afternoons May-August). Details: www.ncagr.gov.
Davidson Farmers Market, between Main and Jackson streets, Davidson. It doesn’t have a building, just tents along a pretty path behind Main Street. But it certainly has enthusiasm. For people north of Charlotte and near Lake Norman, this growers-only market is a steady food source. In winter, it keeps going on the first and third Saturdays from November through March. Details: www.davidsonfarmersmarket.org.
Matthews Community Famers Market, 208 N. Trade St., Matthews. This was the first growers-only market in the area, and gave the original boost to everything local around here. It’s still in an open space in downtown Matthews, and it has winter hours from November through March. Details: www.matthewsfarmersmarket.com.
Mecklenburg County Market, 1515 Harding Place. This little market is where it all began – it’s the original Charlotte farmers market. It has fresh produce, some of it garden-grown, and homemade cakes and cookies. It’s also the place to pick up vegan and vegetarian prepared foods from Beverly’s Gourmet. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Details: www.mecklenburgcountymarket.com.
7th Street Public Market, 224 E. Seventh St. Predicting what the winter will bring for this new market is like trying to guess what a toddler will look like a year older. Several restaurants have spaces here, Meat & Fish Co. has excellent meat and fish, and there is some local produce. But it changes by the month, so you have to go in and see what’s happening. Parking is free in Seventh Street Station, but only if you take your ticket in and have it stamped. Details: www.7thstreetpublicmarket.com.