Summer is the time to go out and do things, and what to do is usually a point of contention in groups or can cause paralysis by analysis in individuals. A good option that opens the door to a cornucopia of crafts, flavors and fun is the multitude of local farmers markets that dot the High Country.
Varying in size, focus and offerings, farmers markets are a great way to support local producers and find new things.
Ashe County Farmers Market
The Ashe County Farmers Market is open every Saturday, May to October from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., until transitioning to its holiday season starting in November. Vendors sell produce, meats, dairy, breads, plants and soaps, while a food truck is also on site for any cravings that might pop up. Due to COVID-19 protocols, visitors can only use one entrance and one exit to encourage social distancing. A hand washing station is available at the entrance for all customers to wash their hands before entering and all customers are encouraged to wear gloves and masks. The exit will be on the side closest to First Baptist Church.
New for 2021 will be an Arts and Crafts Expo. Held the second Saturday of each month from June to October, and during the four holiday markets, the expo will give local crafters the chance to show off their wares.
Important events and COVID-19 updates are listed on www.ashefarmersmarket.com.
Avery County Farmers Market
Located in Banner Elk, the Avery County Farmers Market offers locally grown produce, meat, artisan breads and baked sweets. In addition, shoppers can find homemade jellies and jams, raw honey, maple syrup, and locally grown flowers and plants.
The Avery County Farmers Market is an association, “organized for educational, charitable and marketing purposes,” according to its website. “It is dedicated to serve the needs of the farms and farmers throughout Avery County, promote standards, encourage the growth and well being of local farms, and educate the public in Avery County to the benefits of supporting local farms.”
This market is open every Thursday from 4-6:30 p.m. at the Historic Banner Elk School.
For more information, visit www.averycountyfarmersmarket.net.
Watauga County Farmers Market
The Watauga County Farmers Market is open every Saturday, from the first Saturday in May through the last Saturday in November. Gatherings take place from 8 a.m. until noon on each Saturday from May to October and from 9 a.m. until noon for the market in November.
The Watauga County Farmers Market has been operating since 1974 and has become an integral part of the Watauga landscape, according to its website. Vendors at this market provide locally made and produced food, art, music and crafts.
For more information, visit www.wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org.
Johnson County Farmers Market
Located in Mountain City, Tenn., the Johnson County Farmers Market market features local produce, meats, eggs and baked goods. Handmade crafts offered by local vendors include knitted items, jewelry and pottery. The market takes place from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturdays at 716 S. Shady St. in Mountain City, which is about 30 minutes from Avery County.
The market also began the Gro Jo Co Kids gardening program, a season-long program to encourage gardening in the youth.
For more information, visit www.johnsoncountyfm.com.
Blowing Rock Farmers Market
Each Thursday afternoon in downtown Blowing Rock, the Blowing Rock Farmers Market farmers market offers fresh, local produce, flowers and other goods from local farms. Gatherings take place from 3-6 p.m. on Park Avenue in downtown Blowing Rock.
For more information, visit https://blowingrock.com/calendar/farmersmarket/.
The King Street Farmers Market
The King Street Farmers market takes place each Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. from May to October. This market is found at 126 Poplar Grove Connector, in front of the Watauga County Social Services offices, in Boone.
The market is organized by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and offers an array of local goods.
For more information, visit www.brwia.org/ksm.html.
The High Country Food Hub
This online food source is another project of the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. The organization features “3,000-plus locally made products from 90-plus High Country farmers and food entrepreneurs,” according to its website at www.highcountryfoodhub.org.
Products that community members can order include, buttermilk biscuits, goat milk fudge, spices and seasonings, fresh fruits and vegetables, natural salves and several other items.
The High Country Food Hub, where orders can be picked up each Wednesday from noon until 6:30 p.m. is located at 252 Poplar Grove Road in Boone.
Orders must be placed by 11:59 p.m, on the Monday before in order to ensure that products are ready for pick up on Wednesday.
In their annual report to the community, the Watauga County Extension office reported a 500 percent increase in the use of the food hub during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, showing the value it provides to the community.