'Twas a berry big day

Saturday was a red-letter day as Strawberry Jubilee kicked the Market into peak season. Farmers and merchants arrived early in order to have their stands up and running for all the early birds. “Our farmers loaded in more than 8,000 quarts of berries, and sold out by midday due to the thousands of customers who showed up to grab their quart, gallon or flat,” says Tasha Kennard, executive director of NFM.

“One of the things I love most about this event is getting to welcome back many of the farmers we haven’t seen since fall and seeing their familiar faces again,” she adds.

We were pleased to have Nashville Mayor David Briley and Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher each make opening remarks at the Market Kitchen about the importance of supporting local farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state. Jaime Miller, pastry chef at Lockeland Table, then took over with a demonstration about how to make strawberry compote and mascarpone whipped cream to pair with cardamom pound cake. The samples were quickly consumed by all ages.

“Strawberry Jubilee was a great day for us,” says Grady Swafford of Swafford Farms, who returned after a winter hiatus to take over the south end of Farm Shed 1. “We’ve been retailing here at the Market since the 1970s, and we’re looking forward to another successful season.”

Simons Produce anchored the north end of Farm Shed 2 for the event with tables covered by gallon buckets of berries. “We had good crowds and everyone was really nice,” says Janice Simons.

And who knew that a cake-baking contest could be such a spectator sport? The vivid display of 15 entries drew a crowd even before the panel of seven judges went to work. After many mouthfuls they declared a winner: 11-year-old Ava Ploof, who took home a $100 prize.

Enjoy the photos below, and keep visiting the Market as the season progresses — we’ll have plenty of berries for everyone.

Our next big events include the May and June Night Markets (the third Friday of every month, 5-9 p.m.) followed by Community Farm Day (with a pie-baking contest!) on July 6.

In order to see captions for the slideshow below, use a desktop or turn your mobile device on its side (landscape).

David Gonnerman