#MarketMadness 2016

congratulations to Team peaches, our 2016 market madness champion!

April 10, 2016

Erin Jobe: What a season!  What a championship matchup!

Margaret Krome-Lukens: That was, without a doubt, the most dramatic Market Madness Final I have EVER seen.

EJ: As well as the only one.

MKL: Well, yeah.  But wow!  Did you see that ending coming?!

EJ: No, but - let’s start at the beginning and sum up for those who missed it.

MKL: Okay, so - the game got started at 7am as the Market opened, and with strong Market vendor support, Strawberries took an early lead.

EJ: It didn’t last long, though – Peaches caught up before long, and really outpaced Strawberries for a good portion of the match.

MKL: At one point they had a 25-point lead with a score of 55 to 30!  I thought that was all she wrote at that point.

EJ: The landscape changed, though, when Market intern Kaia arrived to cheer for Team Strawberries.

MKL: She must have been totally fantastic, because as scores crept up towards the 90’s, Strawberries actually CAUGHT UP with Peaches and took the lead.  What a recovery!

EJ: From about 10:45 onward, it was back and forth.  Market volunteer Andreas kept Peaches going strong too, and we saw lots of houses divided on the issue.

MKL: As well as quite a few individual fans divided on the issue!  I talked to several people who, in their love for both fruits, refused to choose one over the other.

EJ: Finally, with the 11:30am buzzer approaching and with the score at Strawberries 151, Peaches 150, the ten-second countdown began…

MKL: And in those final 10 seconds, a miracle for the Peaches: one more vote!

EJ: A 151-151 TIE at the close of regulation!  What are the chances?!

MKL: So, in accordance with the Market Madness rules and regulations, a two-minute overtime was added.

EJ: Cheerleaders cheered, things got noisy, and a few Market shoppers were brave enough to approach the area and cast their votes.

MKL: And when the SECOND final buzzer sounded, Peaches had carried the day by two.

EJ: What a wild end.

MKL: I nearly passed out.

EJ: Peaches were awarded the golden Market Madness Championship Basket.

MKL: Congratulations are in order for both teams for coming so far, and for being so well-loved and delicious.

EJ: And of course we’d like to thank all the fans for their enthusiastic participation!  Without your support, there would be no Market Madness tournament!

MKL: Without your support, there would be no Market!

EJ: And there’s the consolation prize for the Market Madness season being over: the Market season is only getting more exciting!  Fruits and veggies from all your favorite teams will be here over the course of the year.

MKL: We look forward to eating them all, and we look forward to seeing you at the Market!


April 7, 2016

Erin Jobe: Wow!  It’s been a long road, but we’re finally here!

Margaret Krome-Lukens: The final game.

EJ: The last two teams.

MKL: The ultimate contest!

EJ: And our finalists are…?

MKL: Peaches and Strawberries.

EJ: We saw Peaches defeat Blueberries by a pretty comfortable margin of 36 to 24.  Nothing fuzzy about that result.

MKL: And even with so much at stake, Tomatoes got edged out by Strawberries, with a final score of 31 to 28.  Surprise?

EJ: Surprise.  People at this Market LOVE Tomatoes.

MKL: Clearly there’s room in our hearts for lots of kinds of produce!  Honestly though – just my perspective from taking votes at the Welcome Booth – I think that the Kid and Baby demographics may have made the difference in this particular contest.

EJ: Looking forward – let’s talk rosters.  How are things matching up for the final?

MKL: Both teams really have a lot to offer!  On the Peach side, for example, not only do you have yellow peaches and white peaches, you even have those adorable little donut peaches!

EJ: So cute and easy to slice.

MKL: And several players for the Strawberry side have quite a following at the Market – both Sweet Charlies and Early Glows are standouts with a lot of devoted fans, and of course the team wouldn’t be nearly as solid as it is without Chandlers, who are just a really hard-working, dependable variety.

EJ: We did see some Strawberries at the Market yesterday.  Will that be an advantage for them, do you think?

MKL: In a contest as close as I think this one will be, I do think we have to consider it as an advantage.  The blissful-first-bite strategy, as we discussed last time, is a go-to for Team Strawberry, and it’s many times more powerful when it’s the very first blissful bite of the season.

EJ: So Team Peaches is pitted against a formidable opponent, who is also highly seeded.  Can they cling to their #1 ranking?

MKL: You pick for us, produce fans!

EJ: Voting for the final will be in-person ONLY, at this Saturday’s Market!  We’ll be score-keeping live so that you can see how the match is going as the Market progresses.

MKL: The voting will end with the final buzzer at 11:30am sharp!  Come by and see who will be our 2016 Market Madness CHAMPION!

EJ: Also there will be stickers.

MKL: We can’t wait to celebrate with you.  See you Saturday!


April 3, 2016

Margaret Krome-Lukens: First, I want to offer my condolences on the really thorough roasting of Team Sweet Potatoes by Team Tomatoes.

Erin Jobe: Ah, well.  It’s a very talented field.  And we’ve now narrowed it down to the heavy hitters!

MKL: So we’ve got Tomatoes, Strawberries, Peaches, and Blueberries still standing.  All of them – particularly Strawberries – well seeded.

EJ: I had a kernel of hope that Sweet Corn would pull off an upset, and they had the strongest showing of any of the defeated teams, but alas, it was not to be.

MKL: Blueberries continued to dominate, and put Cucumbers in a real crunch.

EJ: And Carrots suffered a pretty pointed loss to Strawberries. So where do you see the next matches going, strategy-wise?

MKL: Like Sweet Corn, a lot of fruits and veggies do a good job with the powerful and popular sweet-and-juicy strategy, but – at least in my opinion – nobody does it better than Peaches.

EJ: And I guess we’ll see if that opinion is shared!  Personally, I think that Blueberries are fully capable of going head to head with Peaches on the sweet-and-juicy approach, but it’s not their only gig.  They’re also a very-good-for-you team. 

MKL: As are Tomatoes!  Whereas Strawberries really lean heavily on the blissful-first-bite tactic. 

EJ: A bit of a theme emerging here, then.  Guesses?  Projections?

MKL: TAR HEELS all the waaaaaaay!

EJ: Let’s try to stay focused here?  MARKET Madness!

MKL: Sorry, sorry!  Uh, so… well, this one feels too close to call comfortably, really.  When these produce powerhouses meet, anything could happen.

EJ: I’m on the edge of my seat!  Will Strawberries crush Tomatoes, or will Tomatoes put Strawberries in a jam?  Will Peaches be singing the blues, or will their perennial popularity win the day?

MKL: Only you can tell us, fans!  Support your favorite teams by voting at the link below, or come out this Wednesday, April 6th to our season’s first Wednesday Market from 3pm to 6pm to vote in person at the Welcome Booth!

EJ: And join us at Market this Saturday, April 9th to vote in the Final!  Voting for the Final will be in-person ONLY, and we’ll be keeping score live so you can follow the match as it develops! The final buzzer will sound at 11:30am, followed by the awarding of the trophy, so be sure to vote before then!

MKL: Can’t wait! See you next time, everybody!


March 27, 2016

Erin Jobe: First, I want to offer my condolences on the embarrassingly definitive defeat of Eggplant.

Margaret Krome-Lukens: Thanks.  It’s been a rough weekend.  I stayed up late Saturday night hoping for a last-minute rally from the online fans, but it just didn’t happen.  And then when I went to see if I had any baba ghanouj in my freezer from last summer, it was all gone.

EJ: That does sound tough. So sorry.

MKL: And I would like to offer my condolences on what I’m sure will be a thorough mashing of Team Sweet Potato, by Team Tomato next Saturday.

EJ: Moving on!  We had a nail biter of a match between Potatoes and Cucumbers, with the Cukes outscoring the Taters by just ONE vote.

MKL: You’ve got to admire both teams for such a strong performance, but the Cukes will really need to step up their game if they want to compete with Blueberries, who are the highest-scoring team in the tournament so far.  Despite having played Peppers last round, who are generally considered to be a strong side, the Blues really dominated.

EJ: I also thought that was going to be a much more even match!  It’s clear that this crowd has a substantial sweet tooth.

MKL: True.  We didn’t see a single sweet team lose to a savory team in this round.  Though I think we’ll see that trend fail when Sweet Potatoes match up to Tomatoes.

EJ: I’m sure that’s what you think!  Is your money on all top four seeds making it to the Final Four, then?

MKL: Definitely.  I can’t see upsets happening in any of these upcoming matches.  As it turns out, produce seems to be way, way more predictable than basketball. 

EJ: Or at least, people’s love for their produce is more predictable.

MKL: Yes.  I’m not sure any farmers or gardeners I know would call the veggies themselves predictable.

EJ: Well, we do all have our good days and bad days.  Or good years and bad years.

MKL: We hope everyone will take the time to vote on the Elite Eight match ups!  Find the link to vote online below, or better yet, come by the Welcome Booth at the Market this Saturday, April 2nd!  This round’s voting will close at the end of the day this Saturday.

EJ: We’d be neglectful if we didn’t remind you that this Saturday, you’ll have TWO EXTRA HOURS to vote (and also to shop for delicious food), since the Market’s summer hours are starting and the Market will open at 7am!

MKL: And voting on the Final Four match ups will be happening at our first WEDNESDAY market of the season, on April 6th from 3pm to 6pm.  Hope to see you there!


March 20, 2016

Erin Jobe: The people have spoken and all the matches have been decided in Round 1!  What stood out for you?

Margaret Krome-Lukens: Well, I think none of us were surprised at how the top four seeds performed.  Peaches, Tomatoes, Strawberries and Blueberries all dominated in their contests and are looking strong going into the next round.

EJ: Sorry, #TeamMustardGreens!

MKL: We do admire your conviction.

EJ: OK, well if those matches went as expected, were there any surprises for you?

MKL: Certainly!  After Watermelon started out with a strong lead, Cucumbers drew neck-in-neck with them for a while and then ended with a strong finish.  I really did not see that coming.

EJ: Watermelon’s really one of those teams you appreciate most when they’re right in front of you.  Winter’s just not as easy of a time to get excited about them.

MKL: Yeah, I heard pickles on a lot of people’s minds.

EJ: Speaking of neck-in-neck – how about that Lettuce/Broccoli match-up!

MKL: Lettuce barely squeaked through to pull off that upset!

EJ: Some people might say that lettuce should have been seeded higher, anyway.

MKL: Some people might have already said that.

EJ: Sweet Potatoes also had a strong showing!

MKL: It’s good to be on your home turf, and if anyone’s at home in North Carolina, it’s Sweet Potatoes.  People feel strongly about Sweet Potatoes here and rightly so, I’d say.

EJ: I know your favorite team advanced.

MKL: Yes!  Go #TeamEggplant!  I was pretty excited to see that result.  We’re matched up against Sweet Potatoes next week.  Very interested to see how that goes.

EJ: Any other highlights from Round 1?

MKL: You know, it’s always satisfying to see a lower-profile but really hard-working team pull off an upset, and we saw both Potatoes and Garlic come out with wins.  I think it says something great about our fan base that vegetables who are just always there for you, are appreciated and not forgotten.

EJ: Can’t argue with you there.  So we’re almost out of time, but anything to look out for in Round 2?

MKL: To me the most interesting match-up – apart, of course, from Sweet Potatoes vs. Eggplant – is going to be Tomatoes vs. Kale.  Tomatoes are obviously coming in strong with a deep roster and lots of fans, but I just think – don’t count Kale out.  They’re a very strong side.

EJ: They’re in the middle of a great season right now, too.  People really can’t get enough of Kale at this time of year.

MKL: Granted, they have their work cut out for them.  With over 100 players at Market including fan faves like Sungolds, Brandywines, and Big Beefs, Tomatoes are traditionally a dominant team.  Kale’s roster is much smaller but with some really solid, versatile players.

EJ: Well folks, we’ll tell you all about it when we get the results in!  Don’t forget to vote in Round 2.  Voting is both online and at the Market, and closes at the end of the day on Saturday, March 26th!

MKL: I’m really hungry now.

EJ: So hungry. See you next time, everyone!


March 18, 2016

After a sellout season in 2015, it's no surprise to see Peaches as the top seed this year.  Tomatoes come in as a strong #2 seed after a record showing at last years Tomato Day festival, and their team roster runs deep, with over 70 tomato varieties showing up at Market, including MVPs like Cherokee Purple and Green Zebra.  

Kale had an incredible winter season this year, and we know all our kale salad lovers have high hopes for them, but they face a tough first round against Green Beans, a crisp and fresh underdog, and next week gets even tougher.  Despite's Garlic's key role in many of our favorite dishes, they were seeded surprisingly low, and we expect a real battle this week against the bright and beloved Beets. 

With so many talented growers at Market and hundreds of different types of vegetables to choose from, making it into the top 32 was no easy task, and several incredible veggies didn't make the cut, including Turnips, Sunchokes, Bok Choy, and Kolhrabi. What else did we miss?