Spring is in the air, cherry blossoms are blooming, and farmers market season is right around the corner.
Grab your shopping tote because we’re strolling through the history of the Nashville Farmers Market. Think: Back to a time when farmers brought their farm-raised goods to the city on horse.
The 19th century
The city market dates back to the early 1800s, when it operated in the public square area of downtown. The state general assembly authorized the construction of the 40-ft-long building in 1801, and it was up-and-running the following year.
In 1829, the original market was replaced with two new buildings connected by sheds that accommodated up to 100 vendors. A century later, the tired structures were slated for demolition.
100 years later
In the 1930s, the Market House, City Hall, and other buildings came down to make way for the new Davidson County Courthouse and Market House on the north side of the square.
If you’re familiar with the Ben West Building on James Robertson Parkway, that is where the market’s third iteration rested from 1937-1955. To this day, you can see the words “city market” etched into the building.
The market was bustling with vendors and shoppers but was often criticized for its lack of space. For this reason, in 1955, shoppers migrated to an open-air market north of its current location, where it operated until the mid-1990s.
The Nashville Farmers Market was moved to its present location as part of the 1995 renovations of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. The market stretches 16 acres of land on Rosa L. Parks Blvd. from Harrison to Jackson Streets — complete with four open-air sheds, an air conditioned market house, a garden center, and free public parking.
At the start of the May 2010 flood — on a Friday afternoon when the market was soon to be underway — the NFM started to flood, and products were seen floating down Rose L. Parks Boulevard, according to an account. The city reopened the market within a few months, but some indoor businesses weren’t able to recover from the damage.
Today, the Nashville Farmers Market operates 362 days of the year and is home to 18 eateries, a pub, an international market, and a local artisan store.
Throughout the year, shoppers can find baked goods, jams, cheese, and certain produce in the outdoor farm sheds. Beginning in April, the sheds are filled with spring vegetables and strawberries, followed by peaches, tomatoes, corn, and watermelon during the summer months.