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Where can I get real, & I mean real, vine-ripened tomatoes in Charlotte?

  • j

I detest the hydroponic/hothouse/gassed, pink, mealy, flavorless tomatoes that are passed for real in the area grocery stores. Unfortunately, even many of the farmers markets carry them in the peak of tomato growing season.

Last year at the Charlotte regional farmers market, I saw what looked like gassed tomatoes labeled with a homemade sign saying "LOCAL". When I asked the helper where they came from, he pointed to the box, which said "Florida". As I walked away, I heard the owner of the stand come up to his helper, and in a nasty tone say "you make sure you tell these people these tomatoes are local!"

I used to go to an out-of-the-way fireworks stand in south Charlotte that carried real vine-ripened tomatoes that the owner's neighbor grew, but he sold the place, and the new owner apparently doesn't do this anymore. So, my new quest for summer is on.
Can anyone help me out? Who in the Charlotte area carries real vine-ripened tomatoes during the summer?

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  1. As far as I know, the farmers market in Matthews only permits locally grown items. It has been a few years since I lived in Charlotte, but I suspect that policy hasn't changed.

    1. I think the small, locally-oriented farmers markets will yield better results for you than the big regional market. In addition to the Mathews market brentk mentioned, the Tailgate Farmers Market in South End would be a good option, once tomatoes come into season.

      1. There are plenty of farmers who grow tomatoes at the Charlotte Regional Market, and at all of the other markets as well. Try Nise Smart of Nise's Herbs or Lilly at Little Taste of Heaven, or Maria Fisher of Fisher Farmers. Theyr'e all known for their great tomatoes. Of course, if it doesn't warm up soon, it's going to be awhile before you find good local tomatoes. Tomatoes need lots of sun, and we haven't had much of that so far this year.

        1. There's a website www.ncfarmfresh.com where you can find local produce direct from growers all across the state. And when you go to a regional (State) farmers' market, stop at the office and ask which building only only the local produce. Often there is a retail building along with a farmer building. A rule of thumb is the farmer building is usually the first one in line, and it's one that has only local and/or state-grown produce.

          1. It's a bit early for vine ripened maters in these here parts. Give it about a month and you will start to see em. I mid July we will have lots and at a good price. Local produce is great, but it is only available in season. Remember - Good things come to those who wait

            1. You could always buy a couple of plants and have your own tomatoes all season long. They grow ridiculously well here, all you have to worry about is protecting them from varmints.

              But every farmers market will have them whenever they start coming in.

              1 Reply
              1. re: billyjack

                All this rain has not been good for my early girl tomato plants, I'm disappointed to say. They are big and beautiful plants, but few flowers and fruit are developing. Hopefully, we'll dry up soon and things will start poppin' on my plants.

              2. Farmer Bill at the Waxhaw and Cedarwalk Meeting St. Market sells only organic, vine-ripened tomatoes. Most of the produce at Matthews is local and vine-ripened HOWEVER there was a dude there a few times last summer that was slinging tomatoes that I am certain were FL maters. All he sold was tomatoes.

                Farmer Bill also has some of the most beautiful lettuces I've ever seen. His butter crunch, baby romaine, arugula, etc. are second to none. Not to mention he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet! :)

                As GFL noted, no one has tomatoes yet - except the greenhouse variety. Soon though, very soon. I can't wait!

                2 Replies
                1. re: lynnlato

                  Just wanted you to know there are no tomatoes from Florida at the Matthews Community Farmers' Market. As the market manager, I can tell you that the only seller at the market with just tomatoes is a greenhouse tomato grower from Marshville. All the produce sold at the market is locally grown (within 50 miles of Matthews) by the farmer or farm family you are buying from. We do farm inspections to ensure that this is the case.

                  1. re: paulinewood

                    Thanks pauline, that's good to know. They guy I saw was a year or two ago and something just didn't seem right to me. I had seen him there only once (correction from previous post) and he had no stand to speak of. He just set up a makeshift table and whipped out his tomatoes, sold 'em all, and was gone. It just struck me as odd.

                2. Make sure you're at the local section of the Yorkmont market, - also, Charlotte Tailgate Market in southend will have only local tomatoes when they come into season. The Matthews Market, according to it's bylaws, sells produce grown only within 30 miles......

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cateringchick

                    Thanks for all the input, I'll be on the lookout come tomato season. From my times growing my own vegetables here, I'm pretty well aware of when to expect which fresh produce to be available. I miss the days of growing my own veggies, esp. tomatoes. Unfortunately, my life doesn't allow me the time to take on a garden theis year, and the last time I grew tomatoes, the squirrrels got every single one, just as they would become ripe.

                    My beef isn't not being able to find real tomatoes right now. I know they'll be here when the time is right. My beef is that, during the peak of tomato season, I'll go to farmers markets, and still find only the gassed tomatoes for sale, and touted as if they were the real thing you'd pick off of a vine in your own backyard.. There ought to be a law!

                    1. re: Jibe

                      You might want to take a road trip up to east Tennessee. Grainger County, just northeast of Knoxville is well known for their tomatoes, and Celebrity is one of the best locally.
                      Grainger County also has a Tomato Festival towards the end of July every year. Too ripe tomatoes meet inglorious ends in the infamous Tomato Wars.