The West Nashville Farmers Market will continue next summer, easing concerns among residents and farmers who feared the Sylvan Park produce exchange would be terminated.
The Metro Parks & Recreation Board unanimously voted to allow organizer Sean Siple and his group Good Food for Good People to again use space next year at Richland Park, situated at the corner of 46th and Charlotte avenues, for the community market.
“As a community-based organization, we stood up for the neighborhood and we stood up for the small farmers,” Siple said. “It was a great victory for them.”
The market, which held its inaugural season this past summer, provides space for vendors to sell produce and other agricultural goods Saturday mornings between the months of May and October. During its first year of operations — by all accounts a successful one — an average of 22 vendors rented space at the market.
Under the agreement reached Tuesday with the parks board, vendors in the future can only sell goods that are agricultural based, eliminating the sale of arts and crafts, for example. Siple said he would consider applying for a permit to hold a separate arts-and-crafts fair at the park on a monthly basis.
Though Siple had also requested that a community garden take the place of what is currently a non-functioning swimming pool, the board opted to defer that plan, citing different uses for the pool that are outlined in the Master Plan for Richland Park.
While the nine-member parks board had only high praise for the West Nashville Farmers Market, rumors beforehand had suggested the market could be forced to move.
Hearsay prompted Siple to send an email blast to supporters, which suggested that leaders of the Nashville Farmers’ Market at Bicentennial Park — funded by Metro — had lobbied to shut down the west Nashville market because it serves as competition. Siple’s efforts resulted in 102 supporters contacting board members, urging for the west Nashville market’s survival, with only two opponents voicing concerns that dealt with parking. It appears the uproar may have been unwarranted.
“I think [the West Nashville Farmers Market] is one of the greatest things we’ve got going,” said board member Tonya Jones. “I don’t think there was ever any jeopardy, in my mind, of taking anything away from the community.”
Jeff Themm, executive director of the Nashville Farmers’ Market, could not be reached for comment, but met with parks officials, Siple and Councilman Jason Holleman, who represents the Sylvan Park neighborhood, Tuesday morning and reportedly signed off on the continuation of the West Nashville Farmers Market.
“Personally, I will always second-guess whether we should have went ‘web 2.0’ on this,” Siple said. “It may have upset a few folks, but overall I think it won the day.”