Ag. Department Commissioner Steve Troxler’s “From the Tractor” (April Edition)

    by North Carolina’s Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler from his April column “From the Tractor” for the department’s monthly newsletter the Agricultural Review:

    This is an exciting time of the year. There is so much activity happening outdoors as plants reawaken, land is being tilled, planting decisions are taking shape, birds are building nests, and spring colors are dotting the landscape.

    It’s one of my favorite times of year because it signals new beginnings and the start of another growing season. After being inside during the winter, I appreciate being able to get outdoors and work in the dirt.

    It is also when seasonal farmers markets make their return and when shoppers will find early season crops such as strawberries, greens, nursery plants and flowers at markets and in retail grocery stores.

    The department operates four regional farmers markets year- round – the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville, the Charlotte Farmers Market, the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market near Greensboro and the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. But we are fortunate to have local farmers markets, farm stands and roadside stands across the state, too.

    If you are looking for locally grown produce, fruits and meats, there are a lot of options, which means consumers have easy access to the freshest fruits and vegetables available in season.

    Many markets also host special events highlighting the seasonal offerings available. For example, on April 19-21, the WNC Farmers Market will host its Spring Festival & Growing in the Mountains Plant Sale. This event brings together the best of spring in the mountains, with produce and products from farmers, growers and makers, plus music, food, kids’ activities, demonstrations of heritage skills and a Local Cloth Fiberfest.

    On May 5, the Charlotte Farmers Market will celebrate its 40th Anniversary of serving farmers, agribusinesses, consumers and restaurants in the area. There will be free strawberry ice cream and cake to enjoy, plus local breweries, distilleries, wineries and meaderies will be on site offering samples for adults 21 and over, plus pairing beverages with a variety of cheeses. There will also be activities for the kids.

    Forty years is quite a milestone, but I learned recently that the Henderson County Curb Market goes back even longer, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Congratulations!

    I want to encourage shoppers to buy local when they can. Buying local directly benefits North Carolina farmers, which in turn helps the local and state economy and ensure we maintain access to a safe and affordable food supply. Supporting our farmers means they are there to support us with food and fiber as well.

    Whether you shop at farmers markets, farm stands or grocery stores, remember when you want the best, it’s Got to Be NC Agriculture!

    Photo above: A farmer displays his bounty at the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville. Photo courtesy