State’s Farmers Markets Meet in Nashville March 22

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 02:24 pm

NASHVILLE - What’s a sure sign of spring?  Obviously it’s when farmers markets start gearing up for the growing season. This year Tennessee’s booming farmers markets have a new way to help each other achieve common goals and meet the challenges of helping local farmers and customers meet face to face in the marketplace: the Tennessee Association of Farmers Markets.


Farmers market managers from across the state convened during the annual Tennessee Farmers Market Conference held in January to create an official body. A total of nine board members with three representatives from each region were chosen to lead the new group, formed to represent the fast-growing and popular facet of agriculture and to provide training and networking opportunities for all of Tennessee’s farmers market managers.


The next meeting of the association will be held March 22 in Nashville at Ellington Agricultural Center’s Ed Jones Auditorium at 11 a.m. Those who plan to attend should contact Amy Delvin at Amy@Delvinfarms.com to give the group an accurate head count for lunch.


“Market managers are thirsty for knowledge and eager to share what they know,” says new association president Steve Guttery, director of downtown development, which includes a farmers market, in Dyersburg.  “TAFM would like to create standards for manager training.”


Other board members include Amy Delvin, East Nashville Farmers Market, Secretary; Kelley Morice, Memphis Farmers Market; Frankie McCord, Ripley Farmers Market; Janie Becker, Rutherford County Farmers Market; Frank True, Donelson Farmers Market; Barbara Garrow, Dandridge Farmers Market; Paul Smith, Chattanooga Farmers Market; and Terry Napier, Bristol Farmers Market.


“As president, I plan to work with the board to carefully create a mission statement for the association,” says Guttery. “What we do this year will determine how effective the organization will be going forward.  We are looking at the successes and failures of other organizations and plotting our own course for success.”


“The Tennessee Farmers Market Association will work to improve all farmers markets in Tennessee through education and the sharing of ideas,” says Guttery. “We don't have all the answers, but with our great partners, we can find solutions for market managers.” 


Farmers markets in Tennessee benefit from partnerships with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which includes Pick Tennessee Products and the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, USDA Rural Development, the University of Tennessee and its Center for Profitable Agriculture and UT-TSU Extension, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.


More than 120 farmers markets are currently listed on www.picktnproducts.org, the state agriculture department’s consumer website for local farm products of all kinds. Pick Tennessee Products is a longstanding statewide promotion with free website directories of about 1,800 farms and 8,000 individual farm products.


For more information about Tennessee farmers markets or TFMA, contact Pamela Bartholomew, agritourism and farmers market marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at Pamela.Bartholomew@TN.gov.  To find local farmers markets and local farm products, visit www.picktnproducts.org .