It’s a Tuesday afternoon in early August, and 12South’s Sevier Park has a bigger crowd than usual.
The Metro Nashville park is drawing people who aren’t there to walk their dog or play on the basketball court behind the canary yellow house that’s been at the middle of the grounds since 1852.
This time, they’re here for the tomatoes picked earlier in the day. Once the fall sets in, they’ll show up for the greens and squash that thrive when the heat of summer is gone.
The produce, along with baked goods and food trucks, are all part of the 12South Farmers Market, now in its second year at Sevier Park. It attracts people from the 12South, Belmont and Green Hills neighborhoods every week from May through November.
The market offers a variety of locally grown and produced goods that are also affordable enough to attract students who want fresh or local foods in their dorms and kitchens, said Mary Crimmins, the market’s director.
“Not only does it support the local economy, but the big thing for me is that the produce is picked and hand-washed that morning,” she said.
While the locally-grown food is a reason the market is in its second year, one of the biggest factors behind its growth was the area itself. As the 12th Avenue South area was gentrified and redeveloped, Crimmins said the neighborhood and its diverse set of residents became ideal for a new neighborhood farmer’s market.
“We just thought that once we got it going that the market was going to be dynamite,” she said.
The market’s Sevier Park setting, complete with shade trees, picnic tables and an adjacent playground, also plays well with vendors and customers, Crimmins said.
“The hardest part now is making this part of the [neighborhood’s] routine,” she said.
The market, with its combination of produce stands, food trucks and fresh and organic food options, is also one of a growing number of Nashville farmers market spots that include Bicentennial Mall, East Nashville and Charlotte Pike.
Despite the number of farmers markets in town, Crimmins said each market is carried by the neighborhood it’s in and doesn’t need to compete with others. That doesn’t mean the market isn’t trying to make itself unique, though. Food trucks like the Grilled Cheeserie are regulars at the market, as is the live music that adds to the park’s laid-back vibe, Crimmins said.
She is optimistic better weather will bring more people to Sevier Park throughout the fall.
“The summer was really tough because of the heat,” Crimmins said. “Now that school’s back in session, it’s been great.”
Belmont senior Jenny Thompson goes to several farmer’s markets around Nashville, but likes the one in 12South because of its setting and size.
“It’s usually been pretty small, and I usually see people I know because it’s in such a central location,” she said.
Peter Burns, one of the market’s vendors and the farm manager of Soggy Bottom Farms in Bells Bend, said the park’s setting stands out from other markets he goes to.
“I love the trees and the shade and the atmosphere around here,” he said. “Definitely the community has really supported the market here.”
The 12South Farmers Market is open from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday through November, rain or shine.