The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Hendersonville, North Carolina Curb Market

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1987

Issue: August, 1987

Born of necessity in the late 1920's, the Henderson County Farmers Mutual Curb Market cut its teeth on the great depression in the 1930's. What began as an outlet for Henderson County, North Carolina farmers to sell their excess produce quickly became a huge success. People come from all over to see what they have to offer.

In season you can find all of the fresh vegetables locally grown, in the fall harvests of apples. All year round you can find canned goods, baked goods, handmade crafts. Everyone who belongs to the Farmers Curb Market has to be a resident of Henderson County and everything sold through the market must have been grown on the land or hand made in Henderson County.

There are 130 tables available within the Farmers Curb Market. At present there are 99 contributing members. When someone decides to give up their position within the Market, the people who are already members have first choice if they want to add another table to their booth. If they decide not to, then they invite in a new member. Memberships have been handed down from generation to generation in the Curb Market. And now there are some who are the fourth generation in their family to hold the space.

The variety of products offered in the Curb Market vary from hand woven rugs to native Blue Ridge wild flower plants. The day I walked through, I saw Mayapple plants, two different varieties of Trilliums, wild violets, spring Beauty and many others. There were also many hand crafted toys, walking sticks, dried arrangements.

Nancy Ball said that her family grows acres and acres of flowers to dry for sale at the Market. She said they grow seven different colors of statice alone. She is the third generation in her family at the market. At her booth in the back corner, she has a photograph of herself as a small child beside the booth of fresh cut flowers.

One booth, operated by Linda Marshall Justice of Dana, North Carolina, has canned goods that are a notch above the usual kind. They have all the standard jellies, preserves and such, but in addition, they make up their own blends and recipes. They sell condiments such as honey mustard. The most unusual item that caught my eye was garlic jelly. I still don't know just what I'm going to do with it, but I couldn't resist getting a jar!

Most any day of the week that you would be there, you could find a large variety of baked goods. The ladies got together on their recipes and produced a cook book that you can also buy at the Curb Market. You can sample the wares and if you like, buy a cook book before you leave.

Up until this point, the Curb Market has also carried fresh meat, but because of state health regulations, they are going to discontinue it this year. You can still find good homemade country butter and milk there.

I was told that the people feel more like a family than an organization. After all, some of these people are the third generation in the same family that have held the same spot in the Curb Market. They grew up with the people in the booth next to them. Occasionally the people will bring food and spread out a pot luck meal together. They especially do this the last Market day before Thanksgiving.

The Curb Market has been going continually over 60 years. It wasn't even stopped by World War II. As a matter of fact, they said that business was good in World War II, because of rationing and a shortage of food in regular grocery stores.

There is a long waiting list to become a member of the Curb Market. They have a control board who decides who will get the membership when one becomes available. There was only one last year.

The Henderson County Farmers Mutual Curb Market was started in 1924 by one man, Mr. Frank Fitzsimmons, who sold produce and baked goods. It started under umbrellas on Main Street in Hendersonville. From there they moved to King Street where they operated in the fresh air. They enclosed the building and sold there until 1935 when they moved to the present location on North Church Street. The building used to have pot bellied stoves to heat it and was built on the site of the old Hanging Gallows of Hendersonville.

When you come in the door, you will probably be greeted by Ersie Ratliff Davis. She has been the manager since 1968 and also contributes handmade story tale dolls. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and see what they have. You'll meet a lot of friendly down home folks at the Henderson County Farmers Mutual Curb Market.