[NASHVILLE] The Nashville Farmers’ Market sounded like my mecca. Huge and open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 362 days a year! I love farmer’s markets, but to be honest, with their limited schedules and early-ish hours, I tend to miss them. We decided to head to the market for some lunch and some produce to take back to the condo. I thought I might find some artisans to include in Local Universe as well.
We circled the market a few times, wondering whether we were in the right place. The pavement under the canopies was empty as far as the eye could see. We got out and walked toward the only sign of life, a bustling indoor food court. The Market House is a bright, light space full of tables ringed by restaurant stands selling every ethnicity of cuisine, from Southern-style ribs to Jamaican and Asian. It wasn’t at all what we were expecting, but we decided to investigate.
My curiosity extends to food, and I’m an adventurous eater (as a former food writer should be), so I headed into the Indian/Greek grocery, meandering the aisles and marveling over the ingredients. I bought some sesame balls that tasted just like peanut brittle and became my lunch.
Next we hit the jackpot, a little shop called Batch that sources and sells locally made Nashville items. I looked at every little thing and narrowed down those that I thought might work well for Local Universe—not too pricey, not too ordinary, able to be shipped. I made notes to look up the vendors later. What a cool concept, that Batch. I loved their tastes.
Hoping to strike upon a secret supply of market vendors—we were there during their high season of May to November, according to the website—we headed out to the canopies, where one lone person was selling strawberries. (Cash only. How did I forget the rule of farmers’ markets and come without cash?) We weren’t the only one surprised by the lack of stalls; a woman stormed up to the strawberry farmer demanding to know where everyone else was.
As the farmer explained, the market went through a great big shakeup this year. Previously some vendors had been buying produce at the supermarket and hauling over to the farmer’s market, passing it off as their own. No more! Now vendors must prove they’re growing their own goods. It left everyone scrambling.
I am 100 percent behind the initiative. The whole point of a farmer’s market is to support local growers and find fresher, hopefully organic produce. But be warned: The market is still finding its footing this season. When we returned Friday morning to meet the maker of Eli Mason (more on that later), there wasn’t much more to see: a meat and eggs vendor and a woman selling homemade pies. Go at lunch for the great variety of cuisines to sample—I highly recommend the crepes—but if you’re hoping for fruits, veggies and festivities, ask around first to see whether the Nashville Farmers’ Market has been repopulated.