Charlotte Tolley is #MadeForKnoxville.

Eager to see increased access to local food in Knoxville, Charlotte teamed up with downtown businesses to create the Market Square Farmers’ Market in 2004. About 10 years later, she and her team founded their nonprofit, Nourish Knoxville. Now, they not only support local farmers and makers–connecting the community to locally sourced products at three farmers’ markets–but they also provide nutritional education resources and regularly advocate for marginalized communities by providing them with fresh produce. 

Charlotte sees herself as more of a helper than an entrepreneur, but her caring spirit has led her to be a key roleplayer in revitalizing the downtown Knoxville area. Throughout the year, Nourish Knoxville provides a weekly space for hundreds of farmers and makers to sell their goods. In addition to the market, Nourish Knoxville has made major strides to improve local food issues, ensuring that all communities in Knoxville have access to fresh, local produce. The nonprofit accepts EBT and SNAP through their token-based system and also partners with Fair Food Network to provide double tokens for any fresh fruit or vegetable at participating markets. 

“I found myself annoyed by people saying “someone should do something” and wanted to be someone that did something.”

In Their Own Words…

In 2004 I was a founding volunteer manager of the Market Square Farmers’ Market. In 2013, we created Nourish Knoxville, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to further the work started with the farmers’ market and the local food system. We now operate 3 farmers’ markets, create the East Tennessee Local Food Guide, provide multiple nutrition incentive programs, and donate locally grown produce to partner organizations.

I have too many interests to be very good at any one thing, and I greatly admire those who become experts at something. I have so much respect for farmers and makers. I will never be a great farmer or potter or baker, but I can create a space where farmers and potters and bakers can come together with the community. And bring me their excellent products.

I was young and idealistic! I have always thought of myself as more of a helper than an entrepreneur. I found myself annoyed by people saying “someone should do something” and wanted to be someone that did something. I wanted there to be a farmers’ market in the town I chose to live in and I was lucky enough to work for some other downtown entrepreneurs (Owners of Bliss and of Tomato Head) who also wanted there to be a farmers’ market and let me lend a hand to their efforts in downtown revitalization.

Showing up is half the battle, and reliability will get you a long way.


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