From April to November, tailgate farmer’s markets across Western North Carolina are in full swing. These markets have gained popularity with small farming communities because of the great opportunity to establish local, direct markets across the region. Tom Elmore, owner and operator of Thatchmore Farm in Leicester, NC, is one of the many area farmers who finds direct marketing to be much more profitable. When Elmore started farming in 1987, he only sold to wholesale markets. When the demand for tailgate markets began to rise, Elmore left wholesale behind for a better opportunity with direct marketing. “With marketing directly to your customers, you are able to establish a relationship with them.” said Elmore. “It’s always great to see your customers coming back to buy your products week after week!”
In 2016, Elmore wanted to see a pre-existing greenhouse on the farm put into production. This structure was not suitable for agriculture because of the poor condition it was in. With the help of a $5,917 TVA Energy for Farms Grant through Southwestern NC RC&D, Elmore was able to make major energy saving improvements to the greenhouse. These improvements include replacing insulation, plastic, and installing thermal curtains that keeps harmful shadows from being cast onto the crops. “These improvements have made a tremendous impact on not only our production, but also our energy costs,” said Elmore. “We haven’t lost any crops to improper heating and we are saving around $1,131 in energy costs per year!”
Elmore also received grant funds through Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D to install a wood pellet stove. This helps to dramatically reduce energy costs by producing wood heat for the greenhouse. Southwestern NC RC&D teamed with Carolina Land & Lakes to provide the first load of wood pellets for the stove. This was also done through TVA Grant funds. “We cannot wait to see how these improvements will affect the farm in the long run!”, said Elmore. “We are extremely grateful that both RC&Ds were able to work together on this project to allow us to do more of what we love.”
Thatchmore Farm produces thirty different crops, including lettuce, blueberries, apples, cucumbers, and squash. You can find Thatchmore Farm’s products at two of Asheville’s farmers markets, the North Asheville market at the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) and the West Asheville Market on Haywood Road. North Asheville’s market takes place every Saturday from 8 am until noon. West Asheville’s market takes place on Tuesdays from 3:30-6:30 pm. Both markets run from early April to mid-November.