The Tailgate: A Local-only Farmer’s Market in South End

Apr 13, 2010 Comments Off by EcoFlirt

Note: Although the Tailgate Market in South End no longer operates, you can find almost all of its vendors just down the road at the Atherton Mill and Market.

There are times Charlotte feels like a city – times when the Panthers play at home or when festivals pack uptown streets. But there are times Charlotte feels like a small, close-knit community. No better example of this exists than the Tailgate Farmer’s Market.

It can be easy to miss the Tailgate, tucked into the patio of the South End Common Market. This is a must-experience for Charlotteans, though – don’t miss this.  Although it’s smaller than the Yorkmont or Kings Drive markets, the Tailgate has the distinction of being an all-local market – you’ll encounter no resellers here. (I was shocked to realize just how non-local many farmer’s markets are.) Just about anything you’ve got a hankering for – from fresh bread to zesty Italian sausage to natural body care products – you’ll find at the Tailgate.

So why head to a local-only market when you can get everything you need at a big grocery store? Most domestically grown produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before being sold (learn more). That means it takes a week or two to get the food from the farm to your hands. And that’s just the domestically grown foods! All that shipping means three big things: one, transportation-related pollution; two, lost nutritional value in foods during this wait; three, money leaving the local economy. At the Tailgate, the person doing the growing is the person handing you your food and answering your questions. So you get better-tasting, more nutritious food while combating pollution and supporting the community. Win-win, no?

Don’t just go to the Tailgate to shop, though. Grab a bite to eat in Common Market and lounge at a table on the patio. Talk to the vendors; they’re very helpful and great advocates of local and organic foods. The Tailgate’s got a friendly, laid-back vibe, and the dog-friendly atmosphere means there’s always a wagging tail nearby. Just be warned – venture near the Duke’s Bread samples (baked just hours before and still warm!), and your tail will start wagging, too.

This sounds like a commercial, I know. I have no affiliation to the Tailgate; I’m just a big fan of the products I’ve bought and the people I’ve met there. I’m only a recent convert to local foods, but it takes very little time to learn that shopping local is so important – to help our environment, to support our community, and to improve our health by not serving a side of antibiotics or pesticides with our meals. Is shopping for local foods convenient? Not always. Important? Definitely. And at the Tailgate, it’s fun, too.

Tailgate Hours: Tuesdays, 4 – 7 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Common Market, South End – 1515 South Tryon

Some of my favorite Tailgate vendors include:

Duke’s Bread
Duke’s offers artisan breads such as asiago epis and cracked pepper and jack cheese rounds. Try some of his samples, and you’ll know why he’s known simply and reverently among my friends as “The Bread Guy.” As you leave, the smell wafting from your bag is intoxicating; walking out of there, I look like a bread huffer.

Windy Hill Farm:
Pork, beef, chicken, and eggs are sold from this small family owned and operated farm in New London, NC. They use no antibiotics or growth hormones, and their animals are pasture raised.

JW’s Farm
If you’re ready to plant your garden, these are the people to see. Jim Weller and Debbi Musika have seedlings of heirloom tomatoes and specialty plants, and they offer any advice you need. If you lack a sunny patch of yard, check out their pretty windowsill herb gardens.

Pasta Wench
Next time you’re hosting a dinner, skip the cooking and serve the Wench’s finest: gourmet pastas with all natural organic ingredients. Last night, I had her smoked gouda ravioli – so yummy. To complete your meal, the Wench also sells sauces and dessert… cannoli ravioli, anyone?

Coldwater Creek Farms
Coldwater offers organic produce and fresh-cut flowers. I bought a bouquet of sunflowers that had been cut the previous night; over a week later, they still look freshly picked. And unbelievably, they were $5!

Local Food
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