By RACHAEL LONG / Photos courtesy of Kasi Haire
Winter’s chill may still be in the air, but the Nolensville Farmer’s Market is already preparing for summer.
The Nolensville Farmer’s Market (NFM) season begins May 4, and market organizers are expecting more growth than ever.
Market Manager Kasi Haire started the market with her husband Daniel — market board president — in 2014. Back then, Haire said the market only had 10 vendors. Last season averaged about 40 vendors per market.
“We’ve grown at least 30 percent each season, which is huge,” Haire said. “Every year the quality of vendors we have gets better, and of course, Nolensville is growing so we expect to kind of see that same growth at the market.”
The market reported that during 2018, its fifth season, vendors made a total income of $536,622, where $73 of every $100 spent at the market stayed in the local economy. The report continued to say that 355 jobs were created, 106 small businesses were supported, and 14 local non-profits were supported. The market saw an average of 3,151 customers per week.
The NFM is held at the Historic Nolensville School between Sonic Drive-In and the Williamson County Recreation Complex on Nolensville Road.
Haire said the market sets up in the parking lot with tents but some vendors also set up inside the school’s gym. Not to be deterred by weather, the market is held every Saturday from May 4 through November 23, rain or shine.
Every vendor must make or grow their product, so Haire said the market typically has everything from certified organic produce to meat vendors (pork, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, etc.,) as well as local eggs, raw milk, craft vendors, baked goods and more.
“We may have a rabbit vendor this coming summer,” Haire said.
Haire said the market has often had customers set up in the Nolensville Historic School gym and play live music during the market.
Market-goers may also find rotating food trucks and booths serving hot food at the market.
One family who Haire said frequents as a vendor are Venezuelan and sell authentic arepas, which Haire says “are just to die for.”
When the market first began, Haire said she and her husband would attend events and talk to vendors who might be looking to add a farmer’s market to their schedules. As NFM has grown, however, Haire said the vendors have started coming to them.
“Nolensville has gotten such a great reputation that we have a lot of vendors who contact us,” Haire said. “Word of mouth from our other vendors has really helped a lot.”
In an effort to make fresh food accessible to everyone, Haire said the market accepts EBT, credit and debit cards as well as cash.
Last year, the market participated in a program called “Fresh Savings” which doubled the money spent for SNAP customers at the market. So when the EBT card was run for $10, SNAP customers got to spend $20 at the market. Haire said she is still waiting to hear whether the program, which was funded by a USDA grant, will continue this season.
The goal for the 2018 NFM season was to reach a certain sales level, which Haire said they surpassed. Now, they’re looking for the “best of the best” local food and expanding their outreach to local nonprofits.
At every market, Haire said there is a designated space for a local nonprofit to set up for free in order to raise awareness and allow the organization to do outreach.
There’s also an opportunity for those interested in being NFM’s community sponsors or partners.
With the sponsorships at different levels, Haire said businesses would be given space at the market to set up and reach customers.
“We see several thousand people every Saturday,” Haire said. “So it’s a great way to get in front of a lot of people very quickly.”
The season starts May 4 and runs through Nov. 23. Market is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.