Read this article or the cute goat gets it
Got your attention? Here, local chef Molly Martin sits down to chat with Lauren Palmer about the city’s role in her vibrant farm
Thursday 24 February 2022 By Molly Martin Photography by Allister Ann
Nashville is a chameleon. She contradicts herself; she contains multitudes. She has reinvented herself in countless ways since I first arrived here in 2006, but like the work of every great artist, there is a through line that unites the variable threads, and for Nashville it’s a certain small-town sensibility, a place where you can connect and feel known. Despite phenomenal growth, countless ‘It City’ headlines, and a near constant influx of casual visitors and permanent transplants, the daily heartbeat remains the same: a fervent exchange and support of creative ideas.
No matter what you’re into, there is a high likelihood you can find your tribe here. If you are willing to take a risk and give something your best shot – be it a new business, an art show, a pop-up food concept, a farmer’s market, a dance party, an app – Nashville will show up, show out, and cheer you on. We co-conspire and collaborate with an ease that feels like the truest expression of what folks like to call ‘Southern hospitality’.
I can think of few better examples of this than the magic Lauren Palmer is building at Bloomsbury Farm. We first met around the time I just started cooking, and she had just started growing. Lauren’s family motto is: ‘Bloom where you are planted’. I’ve loved watching her put this into practice for the past 13 years, and I can’t wait to see what blooms within the community of Soho House Nashville with so many passionate people like her in the mix.
We recently sat down to chat about what connection and community look like in our town.
Molly Martin: ‘I’ve always felt like Nashville is a place where people are eager to connect and support wild ideas. Do you feel that support has shaped the vision for Bloomsbury?’
Lauren Palmer: ‘I welcome all the new growers coming to town – the farming community, as well as the restaurant industry are very welcoming. I’m happy to be in the food business; we can commiserate and brainstorm at the same time. We’re all in it for good eats and hard work. That’s definitely the mentality; we hustle but damn, we eat good.’
MM: ‘Watching you build your business from those early days of just wheatgrass and sprouts, it seemed like an active collaboration with the chef scene. You were always growing things that other people weren’t, different varietals. At that time, farmers came to the back door of the kitchen, offering, “Here’s what I got. Do you want it?” But I felt like you were intentional – “What do you want? What are you into? I’ll grow it.”‘
‘There is a through line that unites the variable threads, and for Nashville it’s a certain small-town sensibility, a place where you can connect and feel known’
LP: ‘I still very much operate that way. I want to have that relationship, that collaboration, not only with the chefs, but at the farmer’s market. People would tell me, “My grandmother used to grow this thing. Can you grow it?” And I say, “Absolutely, let’s do this together.” That’s what hospitality means to me.’
MM: ‘From what you grow, to the kinds of community events you’re organising at the farm, you have an intuitive sense about what people need and a natural way of inviting people in. Farm Fridays are the perfect example. They grew quickly from a few people picking up CSAs, to a weekly party for 100 with families and friends, and dogs and food trucks.’
LP: ‘Yeah. It’s part of a long line of never saying no. Farm Fridays started with one customer who lived five houses down and didn’t want to drive to Franklin to shop; then it was five, then 10, and I was finally like, “OK, let’s do this. Let’s have a beer on tap, let’s have Edgar slinging some tacos – bring a picnic, let’s party. I get such joy because I’m essentially having friends come to my house every Friday.
‘I’m here for more with Soho House. There are so many possibilities. The first night I met some of the crew, I couldn’t sleep, just imagining all the cool things that are going to happen. It’s there for the taking and it’s all in one spot.’
MM: ‘Yes. I loved getting to be part of the Art Walk event they put together. They said, “What do you want to make?” and just let me run wild with ideas, no edits. Every room I entered was the most diverse room I had been in for years – vibrant, interesting, joyful people and animated conversations. It was very much the vibe we’ve been talking about, like, “Yeah, that sounds fun, let’s do it. Let’s throw things at the wall and see what happens.”’
For more information on Soho House Nashville, click here.
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