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South Asheville tailgate market moves indoors

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1/18/2012 - South Asheville tailgate market moves indoors
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- The viability of a winter tailgate market comes to down to a question of chicken and eggs.

The availability of eggs is not in question -- there will be some for sale at Asheville City Market South's new indoor winter farmers market opening today at Biltmore Park Town Square, said tailgate market manager, Mike McCreary.

But the success of this first indoor tailgate boils down to a question similar to the age-old query about whether the chicken or the egg came first, McCreary said.

For McCreary's situation, it's question of if a winter market option must come first to inspire farmers to extend their seasons, or if there are already enough vendors producing food products to sustain a successful winter market.

McCreary said he hopes they will learn that there is already a need and this test will transform into a permanent year-round market to stimulate economic success for Western North Carolina's farmers.

The market will open with about a dozen vendors, McCreary said. Expect to find vendors offering produce, meat, cheese, pasta, prepared foods, baked good and handmade items like bath salts and eco-friendly cleaning products.

For Dawn Creasman, the market has already provided a way for Creasman Farms, a Hendersonville orchard, to "expand a little bit and expand our season."

The family farm will be providing apples, apple butter and dried apples for the market.

"We are generally shut down by now," she said. It's easy for them to extend their season if there is a market available, she said.

"Apples are a little unique," she said, "you can keep them in cold storage" after being picked for sale after the harvest.

By being able to sell directly at a winter tailgate market and not go through a processor in the offseason, Creasman said they will get "more control, and it allows us to meet with the people who are buying our products."

"That helps us in picking varieties and gives a lot of good feedback."

McCreary attempted to extend the market's outdoor season in 2011 because of customer and vendor interest.

"The usual market ends in October," he said, "and we extended into November, but the weather became an issue."

So when the "opportunity presented itself" to move into an open indoor space in the Biltmore Park Town Square next to Natural Impressions, McCreary said he was very excited to extend their stay in the planned community.

"It is very much a community market," he said. "I'm really happy that we are getting to be in a planned community. I think it's unusual to a farmers market there."

McCreary also aims for the winter indoor market to help drive customers to the outdoors market.

"The idea is that if we can keep the momentum going, the interest going by the shoppers coming throughout the winter," he said, "that when we open back outdoors in May, the success can build upon the success."

 

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