ON WEDNESDAY AFTERNOONS, FROM May to October, local residents flock to Shelby Park in search of fresh farm produce, community, and culture. The East Nashville Farmers Market has become the neighborhood destination for East Siders — both new and old alike — who want to experience true Tennessee flavor. Therefore, we give you the most authoritative (and briefest) of guides to the East Nashville Farmers Market — how to get there, what to do, what to bring, and what to expect.
Bike, hike, canoe, or convertible
Shelby Park underwent an infrastructural face lift last year that has made the park more traversable than ever before. Added bike lanes, greenways, and realigned parking have created a safer and more pleasurable trek to the market grounds. Shoppers arrive via fixed-gears, baby-strollers, wagons, and pick-ups, because how you come doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re there.
Tip: To make the most of your afternoon, take advantage of the many park amenities such as the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center, hiking trails, and a Cumberland River boat ramp.
Pack a blanket and relax
The grassy lawn at the center of the market is where shoppers congregate and listen to music. Families enjoy fare from local food trucks while kids gather for story time and dance to the band. Don’t be surprised to find plenty of berry-stained grins and ice cream that ends up on more mouths than in them.
Load up the little ones
The ENFM offers an exciting venue for kids to explore new experiences. Tasting samples, observing honeybee hives, petting snakes, and painting pumpkins are all fun and educational activities that influence a child’s wonderment for food and agriculture at an early age. And the playground and swing sets help expend unwanted energy before bedtime, too.
Bring your SNAP dollars
The ENFM was the second farmers market in the state of Tennessee to accept SNAP benefits, and with the newly implemented SNAP Back program, the market matches up to the first $20 SNAP dollars spent. True, cash is always best when shopping at the market, but bringing your SNAP dollars gives you a much bigger bang (read: an explosion of fruits and vegetables) for your buck.
Note: In addition to SNAP/EBT cards, debit and credit are also accepted at the information booth. However, small service fees do apply.
Shake a farmer’s hand
There’s no better way to discover diversity in local produce than to shake the hand of the person who grows it. What could seem like a typical display of the usual seasonal fare is often riddled with interesting new cultivars and heirloom varieties of standard favorites. Simply strike up a conversation with a Tennessee farmer (they love it, you’ll see) and you may be surprised by what you will learn.
For more information regarding what to bring to the market, FAQs, special events, and kid’s activities, visit the market’s website at http://eastnashvillemarket.com/