I make an almost weekly Saturday morning trip to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market where I try to buy the bulk of my meat, eggs, fruits and veggies. I have been visiting this market for over five years now and over the course of that time I have gotten to know and love several of the farmers.
When I tell friends and clients that I go to the Regional Market, many comment that they’ve never been because a) it seems too far away or b) they don’t know how to navigate it. The reason I choose to drive nearly 20 minutes to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market (it’s located off Yorkmont road in the direction of the airport) is for the selection and prices.
We have quite a few farmers markets in town but many of them are either not true farmers markets (I’m looking at you King’s Drive) or pricy (hey Atherton Market). The King’s Drive Farmers Market is a produce and not a true farmers market. It’s run by Simpson’s Produce. While they do source some things locally, you can also buy things like avocados, bananas and other non-regional produce items there. They also admit to getting a “jump start” on the season by trucking things in from places like Florida. They are a produce re-seller versus buying direct from the farmer. All that said, I totally get why people shop there and I grab things from there on occasion as well. I’m not knocking it. I’m just saying that it’s not a “true” farmers market and you have to ask about where things came from.
And while I really love the Atherton Market, it tends to be really expensive and I can get at least twice as much for the same amount of money at the Regional with tons more selection.
The Regional Market is huge! There are three main market buildings and a greenery building. I spend most of my time in Building A, which is the “Got to be NC” building. There are a few other vendors that I frequent in buildings B and C but for the purpose of this post, I’m sticking to the farmers I buy from.
The following list features 6 of my favorite farm/farmers at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. I have been buying from all of these guys for years and I would say that 95% of my market purchases come from them.
1. Windy Hill Farm
If you’ve been following my blog any length of time, you’ve heard me mention Windy Hill many, many times.
I have been buying my meat and eggs from Charlie for years. He’s the nicest guy and often brings his kids with him to the market. He always asks me about yoga and we talk about working out. He has a garage gym where he and his wife workout. Last year he was working on handstands! 🙂
Connect with them on Facebook.
2. Hoffman Heritage & Heirlooms
I started buying from Hoffman Heritage and Heirlooms last summer and Andre has quickly become one of my favorite farmers. They grow only heirloom produce and we only raise heritage breeds of animals. They don’t use pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizer and their animals live out on pasture in an enriched and humane environment. They state on their website, “we believe that you are what you eat, and what you eat should be as pure and unaltered as possible.”
Andre has a really cool story. In 2011 he left the corporate world after losing his home in a massive wildfire and moved back to Lincolnton, NC to help his mom with the farm that had been in their family since 1870. He’s been able to breathe new life into it and it’s really inspirational to see. I love following their farm adventures on Facebook.
3. Poplin Farms
Poplin Farms is located in Albemarle, NC and owned by a husband and wife team. They offer produce and grass-fed beef.
They always have a great selection of grass-fed beef as well as beautiful produce.
I especially enjoy their humor. 🙂
See more on Facebook.
4. A Way of Life Farm
A Way of Life Farm is a small, family-owned farm located in Sunshine, NC. Doesn’t that just sound nice? Their mission is, “To use diverse natural systems that build living soil while producing food for healthy people, healthy economy, and healthy ecology.” The farm was started in 2009 by husband and wife team Jamie and Sara Jane Davis who say, “Living on land that we can grow on for the rest of our days is a dream come true!”
They grow everything they bring to market and without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. They also offer soy-free fed pork. A Way of Life always has a beautiful selection of seasonable produce.
Follow them on Facebook for more scenes from the farm.
5. Bluebird Farm
Bluebird Farm is another husband and wife duo who grow healthy, flavorful veggies and pastured meats and eggs. They are located in Morganton, NC and always have the most beautiful display of vegetables. They grow over 100 varieties of vegetables!
Their animals are raised outside on pasture without antibiotics or synthetic hormones and are fed certified organic grains. The vegetables are grown in living soils without synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
Check out their Facebook page.
6. Unity Farms
Unity Farms is over in Building B and they have a huge set up. It’s another husband and wife team but on a much larger scale. I have to share this story from their website…
“About 16 years ago we moved from Charlotte to Denver, North Carolina and purchased 10 acres to start our family farm. We built a house and developed the land for farming, we build a goat enclosures, pig pens, chicken coops, dog houses, and of course, a large walk in cooler and two large sheds for our produce. We purchased two 200 ft. greenhouses and multiple trucks to run our business and transport our produce.
We had three kids, Peyton, the oldest son, Kendra, the middle child and our only daughter, and Walker, the youngest son. One of the main reasons we became farmers is to create a future for our children, to learn about and eventually take over this family business. In 2008 we bought 100 acres out in Iron Station to grow our farm and that’s were we produce most of our product. Even though we still live on our Denver farm.”
I tend to buy mostly fruit from Unity Farms. It seems that they partner with other local farmers on some of their fruit selection.
The berries have been incredible this year.
I highly recommend making the trip to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market if you live in the area. Give yourself a good 1-2 hours to explore all the market has to offer and engage the farmers in conversation. It’s great to ask questions about how things are grown and where. They enjoy talking to you about their work and usually have great ideas on different ways to prepare common things as well as how to prepare produce you may not be familiar with.
Note, you do have to watch out for produce re-sellers…especially in Building B. Again, nothing wrong with it but if you want to buy direct from farmers be diligent!
I have loved this market for years but after writing this post and reading up on all of my favorite farmers, I love it even more. They work so hard and deserve our support.
Local readers…have you visited the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market?
Non-local readers…tell me about your favorite farmers market and farmers!