There’s nothing like biting into a garden-grown tomato on a hot summer day or wiping your mouth off after gnawing on a buttery, delicious ear of corn. For those of us who are unable to grow our own vegetables and fruit, a Farmers Market for LaVergne has long been a dream. Fortunately, members of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee have been doing some major research and legwork to make a Farmers Market a reality for our city. They have contacted other cities to design the policies and procedures. They have talked with about 30 vendors from the area who expressed a willingness to come to the city a couple of evenings each month to sell their locally grown products. The Parks & Rec Department said the Civic Auditorium would work as a location. Things were looking good.
Except Dennis Waldron as mayor said he didn’t think people could sell items on city property. The city administrator said at the workshop that this was actually not the case because the city’s municipal code does allow for this to happen. The mayor then said he didn’t like the idea of people going out to area stores or produce distributors and just buying vegetables to sell. So the people volunteering to bring the Farmers Market to the city carefully designed a Vendor Agreement / Contract that specified only food grown in our area by the vendor would be allowed. The agreement was very very detailed to protect the city and to ensure that citizens buying these products were getting healthy, homegrown food.
Because who doesn’t want a Farmers Market?
That was not a rhetorical question. The answer: Dennis Waldron, Melisa Brown, and Calvin Jones.
THEY do not want a Farmers Market for our residents. They voted down the measure that would have allowed a market to open in our own city this May or June. We would have had fresh green beans, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and more. Not the gritty hydroponic products, but fresh out of the dirt nutritional delicious food that is good for the body and good for the soul.
When asked why they voted against the measure, resident Jason Cole who has been a key volunteer with this project heard back from two of the three officials:
Melisa Brown did not reply to his information request as of “print” time.
The answers given by the other two officials were jaw-dropping. Calvin Jones said there was not enough information? You had the information in the packet given to board members, including the vendor sign-up form and rules. You did not ask ONE SINGLE question to gain more information. And EVERY town around ours and thousands of towns and cities throughout the NATION have Farmers Markets. But you don’t have enough information?
Would it be fair to sell fruits and vegetables, asked Dennis Waldron, but not flea market products? Well YES. Yes it would be fair. With apologies to Alabama, even Alabama knows that Farmers Markets are an incredible benefit to the quality of life of residents. Click through to read the whole article, but here’s just one tidbit:
Buying from the local farmer not only financially benefits the farmer but the community as well. Today’s farmer receives less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. When farmers sell directly to the consumer, the middleman is cut out thus producing a higher profit for the farmer. The farmer then circulates his profits throughout the community with local merchants creating a cycle that helps to build a strong local economy.
As chairman of our Economic Development Advisory Committee, how does Melisa Brown justify her vote? She also did not ask a single question about the initiative. She expressed zero interest in helping our friends and neighbors have access to fresh food in our own town.
“Would it be fair to sell vegetables and fruits, and not sell flea market and yard sale stuff – having people outside the city come in and selling like the Nashville market?”
Keep up with current events, mayor. Nashville has restructured their Farmers Market where it is local food only and not other products. And if you want a flea market, then put together a committee to form a city flea market, but don’t punish people who crave fresh produce because you have an affinity to flea markets and yard sales.
As we said last week, “Well La Vergne. This is what you wanted. This is now our reality.”
(And we didn’t even touch on how this mayor violated our city charter by bringing up home builders to again bark about fire sprinklers during the middle of a meeting.)
Photo of a Farmers Market in McMinnville. See? Other cities support Farmers Markets.
"Bye-Bye Farmers Market in LaVergne",