Farm Program Manager
A Nashvillian, Tasha Kennard always had an interest in issues that affected her state and community. While in college studying communications at Middle Tennessee State University, a professor steered her toward a powerhouse public affairs firm that handled advocacy work at the state legislature, and she worked full-time with The Ingram Group in Nashville as an intern while completing her senior-year coursework.
After graduation, she represented Ingram Group clients, ranging from environmental to healthcare and hospitality, most often on community relations and problem-solving initiatives. She fell in love with one company, Krispy Kreme, whose popularity had skyrocketed around the globe. They were intentional about culture-building, and the product brought joy to people. When Krispy Kreme offered her a position at its corporate headquarters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she jumped at the chance to move with her husband, who was starting his career in law enforcement.
When the time came to start a family, the Kennards chose to head back to Nashville—and Tasha pursued her passion to serve the community at Second Harvest Food Bank, an organization Tasha had volunteered with since high school. As the Vice President of Marketing and Communication at Second Harvest, she built a staff from the ground up and raised the nonprofit’s profile and impact throughout the region. Amid the Great Recession, those were difficult years for the economy, and the need was greater than ever before.
When then-Mayor Karl Dean’s team called in 2014 looking to recruit new leadership for the Nashville Farmers Market, Tasha saw a chance to address gaps in the food system and create opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs. Leaning on her public affairs background, she collaborated with customers, vendors, local government, and opinion leaders to develop best practices, instituting producer-only standards for merchants, and providing a platform for small growers who had been squeezed out by brokers for years. Working with board members that included local chefs and farmers, she led efforts to complete $7 million in renovations to the market, including curating large-scale public art installations, establishing a statewide food-security program that doubled the buying power for EBT customers, partnering with farmers and community organizations to divert perishable produce that would otherwise end up in a landfill, launching culinary programming to introduce the community to local farmers and chefs, and positioning the Nashville Farmers Market as a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Soon after the market recovered from damages sustained in the March 2020 tornado, Tasha shifted her focus to guide market vendors through the pandemic, garnering $1 million in grant funding to provide PPE, rent relief, and supply-chain solutions.
But nature has always been a sanctuary to her, and Nashville Farmers Market board member Tyler Brown had kept her apprised of the progress at Southall over the course of five years. She felt the pull, overwhelmed by the abundance of it all, having worked in an environment of scarcity for so long. The collection of purpose, resources, and talent here presented a platform from which to pull it all together, a unique role to create experiences for neighbors, guests, community groups, and school children to learn about farming, meet a local artist, or dive into wellness. As Farm Program Manager at Southall, it’s the perfect creative well to fill her cup.