City to scrutinize Nashville Farmers' Market finances

Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 8:10pm
Staff reports

The Metro Department of Finance will conduct a “full financial and operational review” of the Nashville Farmers' Market after finding shortcomings in how the market operates, according to Mayor Karl Dean's office.

On Thursday, the Farmers' Market board asked for the detailed review, which comes after an initial review of tenant billings and financial operations. A memo from Director of Finance Rich Riebeling said the examination found instances of billing irregularities, inconsistent lease agreements, discrepancies in alcohol revenues and lack of policy enforcement.

Dean said, “Our job is to make sure that departments are run responsibly and serve as good stewards of public funds. I expect prompt remedial action to the issues uncovered by our Finance Department.

“I feel strongly that the Farmers’ Market can be so much more than what it is today. It is a gem in our city, and I would like to see it develop into a major attraction where individuals have access to fresh, local produce and information about healthy food choices. To do that, we must first ensure that the resources we put toward it are used in the proper way. I will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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10 Comments on this post:

By: tgunch63 on 1/27/12 at 9:02

M.R. O'Hara, I have never understood why this venue is not used by local farmers. I have looked for fresh local produce there for many years and am consistently disappointed..When a vendor is asked where a particular fruit/vegetable is from the answer is "from some nearby community or county. It's very evident this is not the truth when you look under the vendors table and in the unloading/unpacking areas and all of the cartons/crates are from California/Florida/Oregon/etc........Is there something going on here that discourages real locals from bring/selling what they grow here?????

By: Rocket99 on 1/27/12 at 9:24

The reality is most of the produce in the sheds come from pretty much the same produce company. They set up as multiple vendors when in reality they are not. Something was attempted in the past where the small, local farmer could sell their produce. The large company cried foul & apparently got their way.

By: Moonglow1 on 1/27/12 at 9:24

Moonglow1: The produce should be local. I agree with the post above it does not all come from local farmers thereby I would not call this place a farmers market like they have in Franklin for example.

A reminder: If we have Tea Nuts in charge of govt there would be no regulation of private industry even though they are being funded with public dollars. The Tea Nuts believe private enterprise can do no wrong. Regulation is bad. Well they could not be more wrong.

By: spooky24 on 1/27/12 at 9:32

I think I can answer that. This is not a farmers market at all. It is a buy and sell 2 week old produce from Brazil. Then slap an 'organic' label on it and double the price. In the late 60's and 70's it was the best open air market in the entire south. Even the great Chattanooga market.could not match the selection and the honesty of the vendors. Back then you told the truth about what you were selling-and more importantly where it came from. As a boy my sister and I would spend the night there to await the crowds at daylight. Now it is so over run with whores, crack heads, numbers runners, pimps and drug dealers of all kinds. Not to mention drunks, panhandlers and every kind of riffraff you can image.
It's hard to fault the mayor for this as he, having no experience in farming or retail, must count on others to fill him in. The problems is that all the farmers are dead so it taken up by the middleman. They drive to Kentucky, load up a truck at the Mennonites, drive back and sell all their wonderful organic vegetables they grew themselves. What gets me is the whole organic thing is garbage. 'Praise the lord and hook up the sprayer' no one uses more pesticides than they do-and Kentucky's organic guidelines are different. All those people being fooled and thinking they are buying organic produce when in reality it is sprayed with the nastiest poisons on the planet. Things such as diainzod- which is outlawed in Tennessee .
Lies, lies and more lies and now they are cooking the books.

sp

By: Left-of-Local on 1/27/12 at 10:30

The Farmer's Market is a mixed bag of dumb choices. Maybe this light of scrutiny will expose those things and improve them.

By: concretemike on 1/27/12 at 4:46

If you want to see where your "Farmers Market" produce comes from go east on Jefferson Street which is the road north of the "Farmers Market". Once you cross the Jefferson Street bridge get in the left hand lane to turn left on Cowan Street. Go north on Cowan Street about a half mile and you will pass some commercial offices on both sides of the road, once you see the Cumberland river on your left look right and you will see a large produce company before you go under the I-65 bridge but don't stop there. Keep going on Cowan until it dead ends on Baptist World Center Drive then go right. You will see a few more produce companies that sell at the "Farmers Market". These same produce companies also deliver to Krogers, Publix and Wal-Mart....do you want ot know how I know...I followed them to see. You can too. An informed customer is a smart customer.

By: ladyday1 on 1/28/12 at 12:57

It's the same thing with "Farmer's Markets" that sell on Saturday for six or seven months in our City Parks! I use the word "Farmers" as a joke. The organization Good Food for Good People, who run these markets, have been told to only have Tennessee Farmers selling produce or products that they have raised. Ask where is your farm? Did you raise this merchandise?
You get a blank stare or no answer at all. Or a vendor will tell you he is a salesman for someone who bought the merchandise from some one else. AKA the honey man.

Let people go directly to a farm to buy if they want fresh food. Then there will no doubt where the food came from or how fresh it is.
The Farmer's Market of Metro Parks is a very lucrative business. This group is taught how to convince a customer to buy their products. They already sell wholesale to restaurants, grocery stores, and on line. They sell, they take the money home and they pay the market operator his share. Who by the way is NOT a farmer.

By: TharonChandler on 1/28/12 at 5:39

'Agrarian Reform' for the USA ? What would it cost; what would it 'give- away'?

From 'Tharon Chandler' for US House, 2012; on January 28.

Other developing countries in this world do not treat their own people so poorly, as sometimes happens in the USA, and some other bountiful countries do look toward 'agrarian reform' as a part of their needful 'economic reform'. Too many persons in Tenessee, and/ or 'the Old South', look at any proposed policy in terms of 'what it gives away to the "minority"; and thus too many poor whites and others living 'under the poverty line' must miss out on good potential reforms such as a new chance to Farm their own Land. Every citizen deserves a chance to own a home and a chance to farm the land. The typical problems that have ruined opportunities for family farmers in the USA have historicly included 'local bank interests', corporate interest in world or international commodities markets, and some secret 'world view' schemes that might imagine they can 'best allocate' the airable land for the 'proper' crop cycles.

To look at the first example of 'agrarian reform' in the USA (but certainly not the first in the world) it did include a racial element as it also does now in western Tennessee. From encyclopedia online : {40 acres and a mule refers to the short-lived policy, during the last stages of the American Civil War in 1865, of providing arable land to black former slaves who had become free as a result of the advance of the Union armies into the territory previously controlled by the Confederacy, particularly after Major General's William Tecumseh Sherman's "March to the Sea." General Sherman's Special Field Orders, No. 15,[1] issued on January 16, 1865, provided for the land, while some of its beneficiaries also received mules from the Army, for use in plowing.[2] Forty acres (16 hectares) is a standard size for a rural family plot, being a sixteenth of a section (square mile), or a quarter quarter-section, under the Public Land Survey System used on land settled after 1785. The combination of a 40 acre plot and a mule was widely recognized as providing a sound start for a family farm}.

Now the chance to farm in Tennessee does include a good proportion of black persons living in west TN (almost 50 % in some counties); though 'black persons' even now comprise only 16.5 percent of persons in Tennessee and only 12.5 % nation-wide. In regard to farming, referring to the racial minority; over half of those are women, though females also deserve at least the 'chance', to farm. (note: hispanics; Mexican and other latinoes are only 4.6 percent of the Tennesee population and 16.3 % nationally; {i notice many spanish-americans are excllent farm workers in California, also}).

Any good person and every unemployed person and anyone living 'below the poverty line' (= $ 22,050 per anum for a family of 4) in Tennessee and elsewhere in the USA Deserves a chance to farm for a living and by this I mean to say 'subsistence farming' or the means to provide sustenence for family survival and to have a bit left over for the common market. Not withstanding the polution and collusion and the usury and other negative effects of 'big Agribusiness' and corporate ownership of farm markets; Local farming provides much more diversity in potential crop yields and better potential 'freshness'; and usually a common place to keep funds more so 'local'.

Now, it is my contention as a candidate for the US House that in Western tennessee their is a plenty of 'airable' land, that can be good selection for 'subsistance' type farming, and that is currently Not being used at any 'higher potential value' with regard to the 'common good' in Tennessee.

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By: govskeptic on 1/30/12 at 8:47

It's fun by government and politics, what does one expect under these circumstances!