Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state of North Carolina. Shopping at local markets and shaking the proverbial hands that feed you as you buy from local farmers is a fun and friendly way to help support the economy as you and your family enjoy the best of what each season has to offer.
Out and ripe for the picking this month of May are all sorts of leafy greens from arugula and lettuce to spinach, as well as strawberries, fresh herbs, crispy cukes, sugar snap peas, bright yellow squash blossoms perfect for stuffing; and radishes and turnips, too.
Later this month comes a variety of summer squash and early blueberries.
Local melons and more are still on the horizon. You may see a tomato or two along the way this month and next; but truth is local ‘maters round these parts aren’t really at their prime ’til the Fourth of July.
It’s not all about produce and product: Don’t forget the meat. Local ranchers and farmers also raise chicken, quail, duck and the eggs those birds produce, as well as beef, pork, lamb, rabbit and goat. At several area markets, you’ll also find coastal Carolina seafood.
The best advice on eating local: Don’t rush the season. Enjoy each new fruit or veggie as it comes of age. Every Saturday morning, you’ll find something new and at the height of the summer season, you’ll find local markets open on Sundays and during the week as well.
If you need a suggestion, here are eight Charlotte-area markets. Check out their websites, follow their social media feeds and subscribe to their newsletters for weekend updates and details.
1801 Yorkmont Road
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sundays, noon – 6 p.m.
Details: No pets
Food and drink: Food trucks on site; coffee and assorted pastries in Building B
This is Charlotte’s state-run farmers market, one of four regional markets spotted across North Carolina. The Charlotte Regional Farmers Market is comprised of four buildings. Building A is home to local farmers, ranchers and producers who sell on Saturday mornings for the most part. Building B is a mix of vendors selling their own and other commercial produce and products. You’ll also find The Mobile Stone knife sharpener, who will sharpen dull kitchen blades while you wait (or while you shop).
In Building C is a mix of farmers and producers from North and South Carolina. You’ll find several cheeses, breads, seafood and more. In the spring, the Greenery Shed opens in the fourth building on the market site with seedlings to plant, herbs to grow and shrubs and trees to locally spruce up your landscape.
309 S. Sharon Amity Road
Hours: Saturdays, May 4 – Oct. 26; 8 a.m. – noon
Food and drink: food trucks
Details: No pets; however if you walk up to the market with your pet, a volunteer will be happy to hold your pet on a leash while you shop. Music, cooking demos, variety of special events.
This seasonal market is tucked in under a series of tents located at the back parking lot behind the Cotswold Medical Plaza Building. With right around a dozen vendors, you’ll find everything from local meats, veggies, honey, baked goods, flowers and more.
On the first Saturday of every month, Troutman’s Sharpening Services will be glad to sharpen knives, scissors, and other blades, including shovels and lawn mower blades while you shop.
Next to Town Hall between Main and Jackson streets in Davidson
Hours: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – noon
Details: Music, no pets
Food and drink: Blue Barn Bistro and Clean Juice Food trucks
The Davidson Farmers Market is a producer-only, year-round market featuring more than 35 farmers and local producers from within a 100 mile radius of Davidson. There’s lots of family fun, educational agricultural presentations, music and more. Look for cheeses, produce, meats, real NYC-style bagels from Black Mountain, honey, baked goods, breads and more.
If you are an EBT card holder you may use your card at the market to buy local, fresh produce. And the Davidson Farmers Market will match any EBT purchases dollar for dollar up to $20 per market day. Get all the details at the red market tent in the center of all the action.
188 N. Trade St., Matthews
Hours: Saturdays rear-round, rain or shine; April to November, 8 a.m. – noon and December to March, 8-10 a.m.
Details: Music; no pets
Food and drink: Coffee at Good Cup Coffee, StrudelTeig Food truck
The Matthews Community Market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in or around Charlotte. All market products, except fish, are grown, raised or produced within 50 miles of Matthews; and when you buy, you buy from the farmer or the farmer’s family. Look for chefs’ cooking demos each Saturday morning at 9 a.m., as well as seasonal cooking contests.
1515 Harding Place
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, noon- 5 p.m.
Details: no pets
This little family-run market has the distinction of being the oldest farmers’ market in North Carolina. Lots of local product is on the shelves in addition to commercial and local produce.
In season, most of the produce at this market comes from Dale McLaughlin’s farm. His family has been an integral part of this market since 1937. It’s also home base for Dale’s daughter, Beverly McLaughlin, and her line of fresh and frozen vegan and vegetarian products, all sold under the Beverly’s Gourmet Foods label.
2918 N. Davidson St.
Hours: Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon
Food and drink: donuts, baked goods, breakfast tacos, empanadas, Jamaican coffee and fresh salsas
The NoDa Farmers Market is a small neighborhood market with everything you need to eat and drink locally. You’ll find locally grown produce, locally raised meats, eggs, fresh bread, aquaponic lettuce and micro-greens, cookies and treats, cheeses, crackers, jams, pickles and, to quote the market’s social media feeds, “just all kinds of fresh, local deliciousness.”
2000 South Blvd.
Hours: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Details: pets welcome
Food and drink: Coffee at Not Just Coffee
The South End Market is comprised of a group of just over a dozen local farmers, producers and artisans. Look for lots of local produce, seafood and cheese, as well as many artisan products such as Coddle Creek Farms nut butters and honey, Olive Crate olive oils and vinegars, pet food and pet treats, CBD oils and more.
Originally a small tailgate market, the South End Market quickly became a cornerstone fixture of the renovated Atherton Mill. As renovations continue, much of the mill property is under construction, but still this popular area market thrives. Starting Saturdays in May, the market will move outside in the grassy area at the corner of Tremont Avenue and South Boulevard.
116 McDonald St., opposite the corner of Price and Church streets in Waxhaw
Hours: Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon
Details: no pets
Food and drink: Belgian Waffles on Wheels food truck; coffee
Waxhaw Farmer’s Market is a slightly smaller market than some of the others, but it’s a growers-only artisan market. That means everything is locally grown, raised or produced, and you are buying from the farmer or producer. Look for home and personal products, produce, meats, cheeses and more.