Known for its jaw-dropping market displays, Bloomsbury Farm is guided by the mission, “bloom where you were planted.” This family farm supports a variety of markets, local businesses, and wholesalers in and around Nashville, Tennessee growing organic vegetables, herbs, and cut-flowers.
With a background in social work and a Master’s degree in Management, Lauren Palmer made a career change to apply her education in a new way and satisfy a life-long desire to cultivate top-quality organic produce for her community. Since 2009, she has cultivated Bloomsbury Farm as a space of abundant beauty and education about the land and the importance of the food we eat.
“I was always connected to agriculture but didn’t realize it could be my profession until later in life,” says Lauren. “My father grew up on a dairy farm and became a passionate orchid grower for most of my youth. By the time I was 11, my parents bought farmland that they kept adding to in the years ahead; this is what has created the farm I have today, which I intend to pass on to my daughter.”
From Experiment to Business
Like many first-generation farmers, Lauren learned by doing, and not long after she started experimenting with growing organic vegetables, people encouraged her to get to market. “One day our family friend, who also worked for Whole Foods, came to the farm and exclaimed – you could sell all of this!” she says, “So he said, ‘Come to the East-Nashville market this weekend; you bring the produce, I’ll bring the tent’, and sure enough, we sold almost everything and I realized: I LOVE doing this! Years later, I can confidently say, farming is the most rewarding job at every turn.”
Discovering the Market Gardener Masterclass has supported Lauren’s education of growing organic vegetables. “I have really enjoyed having the program available as a guide,” she says. “It’s very in line with what I want to do: being smarter about how we operate, and less whimsical.”
“It seems like there’s a purpose and science behind it (the Masterclass)– instead of approaching crop production saying ‘let’s grow this for the heck of it’, there’s a rhythm to the teachings that offers knowledge and techniques that can really offer success for farmers at any stage of their development,” she says.
When considering what tips she’d advise to a new grower, Lauren reflects on her own experience: “Grow something that you think is beautiful – because if you are going to grow something that you are not going to eat or enjoy, then…that kind of defeats the purpose. Plus, that way you can have a story behind it that can engage new customers.”
Name: Lauren Palmer from Bloomsbury Farm
Location: Smyrna, Tennessee, United States
Size of Farm: 15 acres of vegetables, herbs, and cut-flowers in cultivation, 30 acres including cover crops, 400 acres in total
Top Crops: Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, and Head-Lettuce
Sales Channels: You name it, and Lauren’s doing it! Bloomsbury Farm offers a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, sprouts, and herbs for farmers’ markets, wholesale and retail locations in and around Nashville and the greater region, and also manages a 500 person CSA. They have also established agro-tourism by hosting events (farm weddings included!) and youth programs in farm education.