The largest farming community in Middle Tennessee is centered around a 1942 Amish settlement in Lawrence County, Tennessee. Once a vibrant dairy mecca, newer regulations calling for immediate refrigeration of the milk (thus requiring electricity) eventually forced these farmers to rethink how they were going to preserve their way of life and create livelihoods for their children.
In 2004 the community gathered their resources and built a produce auction house that now provides a dynamic wholesale outlet for the region. While somewhat slow to build, this season the auction barn sold more than $1 million of produce over 75 days of operation, averaging about $17,000 a day.
Perhaps it was an unintended consequence, but the bigger sales motivated several farmers to use more fertilizers and pesticides to optimize short-term yields and allow them to grow a larger quantity of “perfect looking” food. In this way, the new marketing system has been pushing out some of their ancestral farming techniques.
However,there are nearly a dozen farmers in the region that have adopted either naturally grown or organic production methods. The extra effort and expense involved in producing their food has motivated them to form this cooperative. In this way they can by-pass the auction barn and market their “clean” food directly to the end-consumer at fair-trade, more-like-retail prices. Nashville Farm to Chef is one of the cooperative’s distribution partners.
Our Nashville marketing network allows these farmers to reach over a thousand health-conscious buyers weekly. For producers within a 150 mile radius of Nashville who currently are producing food that can be certified through either the naturally grown or organic programs, membership may be an option worth looking into. Our share of sales is reasonable and negotiable.