It's often remarked that a great library makes a great city, but you could make the same case for farmers' markets. Every stall stacked with heirloom tomatoes or wedges of artisan cheese is bountiful proof of a metropolis committed to sustainable living. With three recent additions beyond the original Nashville Farmers' Market (open daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and the East Nashville Farmers' Market (3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays through October at 210 S. 10th St.), Nashville can now boast five farmers' markets in town teeming with fresh, organic, seasonal and specialty goods.
Last summer, the locally grown-and-harvested movement crept west of Bicentennial Park with the addition of the West Nashville Farmer's Market at 46th and Charlotte's Richland Park (Saturdays, 9 till noon, through October). This year brings two more locations for within-a-100-miles-radius fare. Vanderbilt's Medical Center Plaza now hosts a weekly farmers' market featuring 11 vendors who'll offer a range of produce, milk, cheeses, meats, breads and flowers from Tennessee farmers (Thursdays, 3 to 6 p.m. through Oct. 28). Beginning in July, Woodbine debuts its own farmers market at the nearby Coleman Park Community Center offering gourmet cheeses, farm-fresh produce, grass-fed meats, locally roasted coffees and even organic dog snacks (Tuesdays, 4 to 7 p.m., through October).
With info translated into Arabic and Spanish to cater to its internationally diverse residents, Woodbine's market puts a unique neighborhood stamp on bringing market fare to South Nashville. Organizer and Woodbine resident Mary Crimmins, 24, says the idea came out of their neighborhood women's monthly book club, who'd just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver's narrative about her family's yearlong experiment to only eat food they could locally procure. Crimmins already ate locally whenever possible, but the book inspired her to also eat seasonally — an idea she found easier said than done.
"To be truly local means being able to walk to get your food," says Crimmins, who already has 240 Facebook members supporting the Woodbine effort and sought mentoring from Good Food for Good People organizer and market champion Sean Siple. With a confirmed launch date of July 6 and a location only minutes away from Peachtree Street, now she can.
"It's like going back to that market culture where you existed completely within a couple miles of your house – that's where you got your food, and you lived a real communal kind of life," Crimmins says. "Why drive all the way downtown when I can walk to Coleman Park?"