Sharing Health & Friendship at Nolensville Farmer’s Market

There are people out there who are hard-wired to share. It makes them happy. It makes them feel complete.

Sharing assumes a multitude of forms. Some share things – all kinds of things. Some share time – driving someone to the doctor or the grocery, babysitting, visiting hospitals. Some, such as teachers, share wisdom. Others, such as Kasi Haire and her husband Daniel of Nolensville, Tennessee, share what they learned about nutritious eating in a sincere effort to improve their community’s overall health.

It all began when Daniel, an engineer by profession, was experiencing health issues. In their search for a resolution, the Haires picked up bits and pieces of valuable information about nutritious food, diet, the benefits of locally grown fruits and produce, and the critical connections between food and, overall, sustainable health.

They saw the difference in the application of their new awareness and knowledge made in their own lives, and they wanted to share it.

There was another major player who managed to push the ball into critical motion. It was Dr. Miro Bandalo and a group of his patients who gave life to the idea of having easy, convenient access to a variety of local, natural food products. The list began with fruits and vegetables, and it eventually expanded to include meat, and eggs. The community’s interest in the movement increased as Dr. Bandalo prescribed fresh food diets to a growing number of his patients.

Dr. Bandalo recruited volunteers, who began moving the Nolensville Farmer’s Market from the world of dreams into reality. The first Board was established in 2021 and included Kasi and Daniel.

“I have a degree in event planning, and I did a lot of volunteer work for the market and in other community projects,” Kasi said. “It just seemed like a natural progression to make the market a bigger part of my life. Our oldest daughter was only six when we began our association with the market. She set up a lemonade stand and also worked for some of the vendors.

“One of the passions Daniel and I share is working with small businesses and promoting their importance within the economy. I spend a lot of time with our vendors, and we have fairly strict guidelines. They must be local producers. They must fill out an application, letting us know what they produce and how they produce it. We don’t want to over-saturate an area and end up with, for example, 20 strawberry producers.”

The Nolensville Market is pretty much an every-Saturday fair for the immediate community and the surrounding middle Tennessee area. There’s a broad variety of organic and/or naturally grown produce, baked goods, farm-fresh eggs, and meats. Local artisans are welcome with their personally hand-crafted wares along with food trucks. Holding the market in the community’s historic Nolensville School adds a special flavor.

The market, open 50 weeks out of the year, generates some impressive local economic numbers. In 2022, the Market’s ninth season, the vendors’ income totaled $825,623. Importantly, $73 of every $100 spent remains in the community. There are 331 jobs supported, with 64% of new jobs created by small businesses. The Market draws an average of 2,193 customers per week during the summer.

There are 100 small businesses supported, with 2,789 acres of farmland cultivated for the products sold at the Market. There are 14 local non-profits supported, with the actual Market recently becoming a 501C3. Perhaps one of the most mind-boggling stats is the $6,581 spent per hour at the Market and more than $8,000 during peak season. Those numbers make it impossible to argue the importance of small businesses within the overall economy.

“We have 50-60 vendors during the summer, and 20-30 during the winter,” Kasi said. “We also have special events such as the Farm to Table dinner in July, where a professional chef prepares local products for a tickets-only dinner. And there’s plenty of excitement on tap for the Food Truck Festival in May.”

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