The growth of farmers' markets across town might just be making things tougher for the city's largest in downtown Nashville.
The Nashville Farmers Market has a lot of changes to make, including finding a new director and a major fix for their finances, but those in charge promise they have a plan.
Every single day, the love of farming brings Ramona Bardonnex back to the Nashville Farmers' Market, where every day a growing problem seems to weigh a bit heavier.
"It's sad, because less people, less I sell," said Bardonnex, with Swafford Farms. "We used to come in at 5 a.m., and I'd have people lined up just scarfing it up. Now I'm down to 7 a.m."
Despite busy lunch crowds, the market continues to struggle both in leadership and finances.
Earlier this year, Metro sought a private company to run the market, but no one applied. So, last week, the city posted a job for a new director.
"Well, we've got to have somebody who can bridge the gap between all the entities that we have there, between a farmer, and a restaurant person and an artisan," said Board Chairwoman Margot McCormack.
The market's board of directors recently wrote a strategic plan to become more financially self-sufficient over the course of three years.
Last fiscal year, Metro kicked in $500,000 to make ends meet.
The board's chairwoman, who runs her own restaurant at the market, admits fixing the business won't be easy.
"I think a farmers' market is at the heart of every good food city," McCormack said. "I think we have a strong vision. And with the right leadership of a new director, and getting that management structure down, I think we're going to be very successful."
As for customers, most only seem to want the best for the sake of the vendors, the market and the bigger picture at hand.
"It helps support the local farmers," said customer Dan Alvis. "You know, it's good variety."
The market hasn't had a full-time director in more than a year. The job pays between $68,000 and $78,000. For more information on the job posting, visit: http://www.nashville.gov/Human-Resources/Employment-Opportunities.aspx.
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