The most surprising sign of spring I have encountered this season is a new patio at Merritt’s Store and Grill (1009 S. Columbia St., Chapel Hill, 942-4897,, the long-standing hub of takeout food. This outside seating means two things: Lunch patrons who exit the grill smelling of bacon, which is unavoidable at the home of the “world famous BLT,” can now air out before returning to work or school, and they can enjoy a local food tradition outdoors.

Merritt’s is not the only outlet taking it outside this month. At 3:30 p.m. April 1, the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market (91 County Garage Road, Pittsboro, 601-6357) will kick off its season. On April 3, several markets open: Downtown Cary (744 E. Chatham St.,; Western Wake (1225 Morrisville Carpenter Road, Cary, and Wake Forest (110 S. White St., The Wake Forest opening will feature two special guests: Debbie Moose, author of Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes From Simple to Sassy, who will sign copies of her cookbooks and offer free samples of her famed deviled eggs, and the Easter Bunny, who will pose for pictures. Also on April 3, summer hours8 a.m. until noonwill go into effect at the Durham Farmers’ Market (501 Foster St.,

For more fresh, local shopping during the week, check out the Farmers’ Market at Fearrington Village (2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, April 6 at 4 p.m., when the market will commence its 20th season. Also, the following week at 3:30 p.m. on April 14 will reinstate Wednesday afternoons at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market (301 W. Main St., This season, expect new vendors like Chicken Bridge Bakery and Fullsteam Brewery, along with the Carrboro Culinary Series, which Market Director Sarah Blacklin describes as “teach and taste events that will go beyond normal cooking demonstrations to prepare common ingredients in an uncommon way.”

After gathering fresh foods at the market on April 14, Chef Ricky Moore of Carrboro’s Glasshalfull will launch the series at 4 p.m. with a focus on chard. Beginning at 1 p.m. April 3, gather on the lawn of Weaver Street Market in Carrboro (101 E. Weaver St., for the first installment of the Sixth Annual Spring Wine Show. The event will include wine tastings, live music, hors d’oeuvres and discounts ranging from 20 percent to 57 percent off the regular price on select bottles of wines. Tickets are $5, available the day of the event, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Weaver Street’s Cooperative Community Fund. The wine sale will begin April 2 and continue through April 21 at each of Weaver Street’s three locations, with additional shows scheduled between 1 and 5 p.m. on April 10 at Southern Village (716 Market St., Chapel Hill), and from 1 until 5 p.m. on April 17 in Hillsborough (228 S. Churton St., Hillsborough).

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