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