Great news for Charlotte foodies! This Spring, the old Atherton Mill Trolley Barn will become the site of a new, local-only farmer’s market. This great repurposing of a historic building comes as welcome news to all of us still scratching our heads over the threat to raze the beloved South End Fire Station #2. (C’mon, Charlotte! Save some history!) The new Atherton Market will open Saturday, May 15, 2010, and the plan doesn’t stop there. Lynn Caldwell, manager of the Tailgate Farmers Market and a partner in this new project, told me that she hopes the Atherton Market will become the next big thing in the local food movement in Charlotte.
At the Trolley Barn, Atherton Market will have the visibility and extended space (8,000 square feet!) beyond what the Tailgate has had at Common Market. The Tailgate will close when Atherton opens, but the vendors will transition to the new site so you can still get your Tailgate fix. With a pedestrian-friendly location just shy of uptown and near light rail and trolley stops, the new farmers market can offer greater accessibility; Caldwell hopes Charlotte residents of various neighborhoods will come together and make the market part of their weekly routine. Her vision for Atherton Market encompasses more than selling local foods, but she also wants the market to help build community.
“Charlotteans have been clear that they want fresh local food made available in a way that is convenient, robust, and attractive – and with plenty of parking and access to public transportation,” said Caldwell. “And they want to continue to build relationships with the farmers and artisans who produce their food. I want the Atherton Market to become the number one destination for savvy shoppers looking for that and then some. Here they will find a community, and an experience that will keep them coming back for more.”
But that’s just the beginning. Over the next several years, the plan is for Atherton Market to evolve into a city market with butcher, deli, lunch counter, coffee bar, wine shop (hello!), artisans, and mobile restaurants – all selling and serving, of course, local foods. As a DC-area native, I get flashbacks of afternoons at Eastern Market and get very, very excited about a similar prospect for Charlotte. The vision is that the Atherton Mill area will become the destination for Charlotte foodies and home to new restaurants with local food concepts – in other words, no chains! This is exactly the kind of growth so many of us hope to see in Charlotte.
The market will include 22 booths for food and craft vendors, in addition to outdoor space. Expect to see fresh produce, cheeses, flowers, pastas, and meats. Atherton Market will maintain the standards of Tailgate and only permit local growers who sell what they grow – no resellers! They are also finishing the paperwork to accept EBTs, extending sales to those with food stamp benefits (nice work there).
Now if only we can prevent the old fire station from being razed, South End will be all set…
Atherton Market: Opens Saturday, May 15, 2010
2104 South Blvd. (Near intersection of South and Tremont)
Tuesday 11:30 – 6:30
Saturday: 9:00 – 2:00