Franklin Farmers Market strawberries

A search for a new location has begun for the Franklin Farmers Market.

After the market was unable to reach an agreement with the new owners of the Factory at Franklin on where to relocate, and with its lease on the current location expiring at the end of 2024, officials with the market have decided to seek a new site somewhere in Williamson County.

The ever-growing and year-round farmers market has operated from its spot adjacent to the Factory since it first opened in 2002. But the new owners of the Factory — Holladay Properties, a commercial real estate firm that bought the property last fall — had proposed to move it elsewhere on the campus.

It was in a smaller space, however, and would not have allowed for a permanent structure or shed such as the one the market currently has. 

Allen Arender and Benton Smothers from Holladay Properties had presented plans for the full exterior of the Factory during a neighborhood virtual meeting in early June, and those included a change of location for the Franklin Farmers Market. They had also suggested the possibility of moving the market to the north side of the Factory near Mojo’s Tacos, according to Amy Tavalin, director of the Franklin Farmers Market.

“Allen and Benton have gone above and beyond in meeting with us and trying to work out a solution,” she said. “So we’re very grateful with what they had been trying to do.”

Tavalin and other officials from the market are now in search mode, seeking a suitable location. They have “had very productive meetings” with Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson.

“Both are giving us great ideas of where to look and who to contact, so we’re just kind of getting the word out,” Tavalin said. “There might be someone that has 10 acres in Williamson County that they aren’t using and want to put a farmers market on. I think we’ll get a lot of community support.”

She added that Moore suggested the Park at Harlinsdale Farm as an option, “so our next step is to meet with Lisa Clayton [Franklin Parks and Recreation director] to see if that’s a possibility.”

The Franklin Farmers Market has grown significantly since it first started 20 years ago with eight farmers. Even as COVID-19 took over a couple of years ago and slowed or shut down many places of business, the market thrived.

“The farmers did great,” Tavalin said. “The food shortages at the grocery stores drove people to the farmers market where they made connections with the farmers. People were more comfortable with shopping outside. So we actually grew during COVID.

“We now have 107 vendors, and a waiting list. We have grown, but we have the potential to grow bigger.”