The Great West Nashville Farmers Market Schism


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This week's issue of the Scene has a fascinating piece by Margaret Littman with some backstory on the dispute that led to two separate (and some would say competing) farmers markets on the west side: Sean Siple's West Nashville Farmers Market and the new West End Farmers Market, started by the folks at Delvin Farms.

The split is the stuff of huge gossip and speculation in town, and in addition to talking to both sides — Siple and Delvin Farms' owner Hank Delvin Jr. — Littman consulted other voices in the local sustainable food movement, including Megan Morton, executive director of Community Food Advocates, an organization working toward a sustainable food system; and Andrea Cloninger Wilson, a professor of sustainable food systems at Lipscomb University. Littman writes:

Morton and others see this high-profile falling-out as a chance for Nashville to take a step back and define what it wants, or doesn't want, its farmers markets to be, and decide whether or not there should be certain ground rules at markets.

For example, should markets held in public spaces be managed by private entities? Should markets have boards of directors rather than one manager who can make unilateral decisions about who can and cannot be a vendor?

Should there be limits on the number of farmers who can cooperatively share one booth? Some markets ask farmers to pay a flat booth fee; others take a percentage of sales. Should these details be uniform from market to market? These are questions that other communities have been forced to ask, Morton says.

Wow, that's a bushel load of good questions. Bites Nation, I'm asking you all of those and more:

Anybody planning to shop for produce tomorrow? Headed to West Nashville or West End? Which one and why?


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