Tracing its roots back to the 1800s, the Farmers’ Market stretches from Jackson Street to Harrison Street along Rosa Parks Boulevard adjacent to the Bicentennial State Park Mall. Covering 16 aces, the market hosts farmers, artisans and other merchants as well as eateries, a weekend flea market and various special events. The North and South Farm Sheds house stalls dedicated to fresh produce and other local goods while the Market House is home to a variety of retail shops and eateries. Open year-round, the market is busiest during the May to November growing season.
Ranked as one of the best in the country, the Nashville Farmers’ Market hosts farmers and restaurateurs as well as artisans, various merchants and special events. Dating back to the 19th century, the attraction has played a vital role in the daily lives of Nashville residents. The market encompasses 16 acres of the Music City’s urban landscape. Depending upon the season, the two large, covered North and South Farm Sheds situated in the middle of the market can accommodate up to 100 vendors selling produce, meat and dairy products. Open year-round, the Market House is home to 18 permanent shops and restaurants.
The Market’s History
The market dates back to the early 19th century when local farmers brought their produce and other goods into the city on horseback. The state general assembly authorized the construction of a city market house in 1801. The 40-foot-long building was completed and opened the following year on the south side of the public square. This structure was replaced in 1829 by a complex of two buildings connected by sheds that housed a hundred vendor stalls. When the market was closed to make room for the construction of the Davidson County Courthouse, a third structure, now known as the Bent West Building, housed the market from 1937 until 1955. Situated on the north side of the square, this facility was deemed inadequate because of poor lighting and the lack of access for the large trucks now in use.
A $1 million bond issue in 1949 jump started the construction of the Farmers’ Market at a downtown location north of Jefferson Street between Sixth and Eighth streets. The latter thoroughfare has since been renamed Rosa Parks Boulevard. As part of the 1995 renovations of Bicentennial Mall State Park, the market was moved to its present location. Although damaged by the historic flood in 2010, the city renovated and reopened the Farmers’ Market after just a few short months with the assistance of the vendors, merchants and volunteers as well as various community organizations.
The North and South Sheds feature ranchers, dairy farmers, artisan cheese makers and horticulturists. The busiest time of the year is the May to November growing season. You can find a wide variety of farm-direct goods, including canned items, honey, bread, meat and other locally grown food. The peak season closes out after the late harvest in November. The southernmost building is dedicated to plants, supplies and equipment essential for the urban gardener to produce ornamental flowers, herbs and vegetables.
The Farmers’ Market Craft and Flea Shed is open Friday through Sunday. Up to 50 artisans offer a range of handcrafts, vintage goods and international products. There is an assortment of creatively upcycled and recycled products.
The Market House is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants offering a variety of cuisine from around the world. In addition to Cajun and southern barbecue, you can find Egyptian, Greek and Caribbean delights. There is an international market and a store featuring locally source artisan products. The Grow Local Kitchen offers workshops and classes.
The Nashville Farmers’ Market is open almost every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The farm sheds are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Individual vendor, store and restaurant hours may vary. Downtown parking is limited so the best way to reach the Farmers’ Market is aboard the Old Town Trolley. Hop aboard for a fun sightseeing adventure to the most popular attractions in Nashville. You can avoid driving in city traffic as you sit back and relax while listening to an entertaining narrative about Music City.
Things to Do Nearby
Nestled in the shadow of the Capitol and across the street from the Farmers’ Market, the exhibits, monuments and memorials of Bicentennial Mall State Park honor the Volunteer State’s history, culture and natural beauty. The magnificent 19-acre park is also the setting for a variety of celebrations throughout the year, such as the Tennessee History Festival.
One of the oldest working capitols in the nation, the Tennessee State Capitol first opened in 1859. It is considered to be the crowning achievement of renowned architect William Strickland, whose remains are entombed within its walls. In addition to touring the building, visitors can view statues and memorials on the capitol grounds honoring famous Tennesseans.
The Musicians Hall of Fame, housed in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, honors session musicians, singers and songwriters who have toiled behind the scenes to create hit records for legendary entertainers like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. These background artists developed the unique sounds associated with Detroit, Memphis and Muscle Shoals.