Remarks by NFM Executive Director Kennard at 'Grow with Us' renovation launch

Remarks by NFM Executive Director Tasha Kennard at the December 4 “Grow with Us” event that kicked off the Market’s new renovation project:

Welcome and thank you for joining us at the Nashville Farmers’ Market today. 

Before I begin, I would like to recognize Mayor Briley, Vice Mayor Shulman and members of the Metropolitan Council and the State legislature, Nashville Farmers' Market merchants, representatives from our board, staff and the Friends of the Nashville Farmers' Market and community members. We are your community market and we thank you for your attendance and support today as we announce our plans to Grow Together.  

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We are rooted in this community dating back to the early 1800s and our mission is to provide retail space, promotion and training to farmers, food producers and retail entrepreneurs and serve as a catalyst for a healthy, community-based food system. 

The Market has operated at numerous locations, including where our Metro Courthouse now stands, the Ben West building (formerly called City Market), the Jefferson Street Market and now here at Bicentennial Mall since 1995. 

This facility was designed to include components of each of our former locations and best practices gleaned from public markets all over the United States by a group of architects, public officials and concerned citizens in the early 1990s. It was through the leadership of the Market board, Tuck Hinton and Associates, MDHA and city and state officials that the Market was designed and erected here in 1995. 

Since that time, the Market has endured — and might I add survived — a constant state of change in our community. 

Just like the entrepreneurs who operate here, the Market has and continues to be resilient and innovative, starting with the establishment of our 24,000 square-foot garden center which has been home to Gardens of Babylon for the past 15 years, and the vibrant, nationally recognized international food hall that offers a bounty of global cuisine and supports small and start-up food businesses. 

The farm sheds continue to bring thousands of visitors to the Market each week supporting more than 150 farmers, artisans and small businesses that operate throughout the year in the farm sheds.  

It is an exciting time at the Market, and we gather today to celebrate upcoming renovations and share our efforts to support more farmers, artisans and small businesses in our community.

Over the course of the next six months we will complete major renovations to this facility in order to improve accessibility and operations, increase programming and create new leasable space for the growing number of businesses operating at the Market.  

The renovations will include construction of a new grand entrance on the North side of the Market House where we are standing today. The entrance will include an outdoor plaza, new landscaping and a public art installation (in partnership with Metro Arts) that will lead patrons through a new corridor into the Market House. 

On the south side of the Market House we will construct a new waste center to align with the Market’s Zero-Waste 2020 goal, and we will introduce new waste centers throughout the premises to increase recycling and composting options for our patrons. 

We will demo and renovate the existing waste center to create a new retail zone and plaza facing the Farm Sheds.   

And, thanks to the continued support of Mayor David Briley and the Metro Council, we have received additional funds to improve the long overdue Market House heating and cooling system while we complete the major renovations to the Market House.  

In addition, we will implement an urban farm and artisan residency program. The urban farm residency program will include two local farmers — Rally House Farms and Bass Farms — that will grow and harvest products that include lettuce, micro greens and herbs right here at the Market within a shipping container and green house located between the Farm Sheds. 

Both farms have been retailing at the Market over this past year and have presented concepts that will not only raise awareness of how our food is produced, but also increase access to fresh healthy food year round in our community. 

The Farms are slated to open their on-premises operations this winter and will begin accepting EBT and participate in our Fresh Savings program that offers a match for up to $20 when using your EBT card at the Market with participating farmers.  

The artisan residency program has been expanded to include three new residents this winter, including Bubble Love, Heart of Nashville and Neta’s Naturals inside the Market House, and the Market will introduce an artisan kiosk program in the spring of 2019. The kiosk program is a stepping stone for artisans designed to provide a low-cost, low-barrier retail opportunity and support artisans who are ready to expand their operations into a multi-day, short-term lease kiosk provided by the Market.

Finally, the renovation project will create 3,000 square feet of new leasable space at the Market — including approximately 1,500 square feet of classroom and meeting space on the second floor and 1,500 square feet of retail space inside the Market House. 

Applications for the artisan kiosk and new leasable space will be accepted in January 2019 and approved by our board this spring. 

This $3 million investment further positions the Market for growth, and we’re thankful for the support of our city and state leaders. 

We’re also thankful for the growing number of merchants who call the Market home and continue to grow their businesses and provide their services and products to our community. These folks are the hardest working people I have ever known and I am constantly in awe of their creativity, innovation and dedication. 

We are committed to remaining open for business throughout the renovation and have the assurance of our construction team that we will maintain access to the Market during construction. Our merchants will continue to operate as usual, and we invite you to visit often and take note of how our renovations are taking shape this spring. 

As we complete the demo and renovations to the facility, we will also develop a master landscaping plan utilizing native and edible plants throughout the premises. 

The master landscaping plan, along with the enclosure of the farm sheds to create an all-season space to support our growth, will be implemented as funding sources become available.   

As we grow, we desire to do so with great intention, which is why we have committed to ensuring that more than 70 percent of the contracts awarded for this project are given to minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses, and our project management team is committed to ensuring that they are doing the work. 

Thank you to Capital Project Solutions, Gobble Hays, Gould Turner, Dowdle Construction, MEPR Agency, the State Architect and Department of general services and our Facility Manager Charles Kizer for their continued leadership on this project.  

Of course none of this would be possible without your support and our 200,000-plus visitors each year. We thank our patrons and the Friends of the Nashville Farmers’ Market for demonstrating your unwavering support and your commitment to Grow Together.  

 

David Gonnerman