Farms in Williamson County
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeffrey S. Otto
Local, fresh and healthy are the key words when it comes to area farmers' relationships with the communities around them.
Whether or not they're technically affiliated with a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) program, farms in Williamson County don't have to look far to see who is keeping them in business.
"Our customer base is people concerned about where their food is coming from," says Hank Delvin Jr., a third-generation farmer at Delvin Farms in College Grove. "They're looking for local alternatives, healthy alternatives."
Veggies, Meat and Milk
Agriculture choices vary widely in Williamson County, where diversified farming dates back to the post-Revolutionary War era. Delvin Farms has a rich history of growing fruits and vegetables, growing them organically for the past several years. Milk products from Hatcher Family Dairy in College Grove can be found in stores and restaurants throughout Middle Tennessee, and Tap Root Farm has a loyal following for its fresh meat raised and butchered on its cattle farm in Franklin.
As it became a certified organic farm in 1999, Delvin Farms began participating in a CSA, a program in which consumers can sign up to receive a season's worth of produce from a local farm. Their CSA accounts for about 70 percent of Delvin Farms' business.
"If you're looking for local produce, it's a good value," he says. "You get a lot of produce in the box, and you get things you don't normally pick up at the grocery store."
About 20 percent of Delvin Farms' business is wholesale, primarily to area restaurants such as Saffire, the Yellow Porch and Burger Up. Its produce also can be found at area farmers markets, particularly at Franklin Farmers Market at The Factory.
"Franklin is our flagship," Delvin says. "I think it's the best farmers market in the state. You've got about 80 different farmers that come there. It's a producer's market, meaning you've got to grow it to sell it."
The family from Hatcher Family Dairy would agree with Delvin's assessment of the Franklin Farmers Market.
"That's where it all began for us," says Charles Hatcher, a fifth-generation dairy farmer from a farm that dates to 1831. "We first began selling our milk at the Franklin Farmers Market in 2007, and people started spreading the word about us, and it took off from there."
Hatcher dairy products can still be found at Franklin Farmers Market, as well as in many stores and restaurants in a four-county area. It also has a store on its farm with many loyal customers.
Loyalty is also evident at Tap Root Farm, where the Ingraham family sells beef from the cattle it raises on its Clovercroft Road farm. Tap Root sells a variety of quantities and cuts to customers who return every year, quarter or month, depending on how much they purchase.
"We have a strong customer list that buys from us regularly," says Susan Ingraham, who plans the farm's different events. "I like selling directly to customers because we develop a relationship."
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