Legendary Music Family’s Roots Run Deep At This Hidden Jewel
A stone’s throw from Hendersonville, and a little off the beaten path in Goodlettsville, is where you’ll find Madison Creek Farms. The rich history of this third-generation family farm – owned by Mark and Peggy Lynn Marchetti (Loretta Lynn’s daughter) – is only matched by the richness of the organically grown flowers, vegetables and herbs sprawled across six acres on the beautiful 38-acre property.
The Lynn family purchased the farm in 1960 and Lynn Marchetti and her twin sister, Patsy, were born there. She says, “This was the first piece of America that my parents ever owned. These people are from Butcher Hollow, Ky. You don’t go there unless you have a jeep, a bulldozer or good feet. This was their jewel. And it’s even more special because this was the place my father bought, not my mother.” The family later moved to Hurricane Mills, Tenn. where Lynn Marchetti grew up.
The Marchettis were drawn back to the farm in 2000. The couple were living in East Nashville where both were songwriters and Lynn Marchetti was also recording and touring. The family member who had rented the farm for 30 years had passed away and they found it in disarray with the house condemned and the property a dumping ground. While tempted by an offer from a neighboring development, “My whole thing was what it could be,” said Lynn Marchetti. “This is where the history of my life began, so the money wasn’t important to me. I wanted to figure out how to create a good life for us that was based on something more than music.”
Mark Marchetti, originally from Pittsburgh, initially had his doubts. “She told me to plant zinnias and I’d never planted anything in my life,” he said. “I remember saying this isn’t going to work, but she’s young and pretty so I’ll humor her. Then as soon as they started popping out of the ground I was hooked. If you could have seen this place then and now, it was a process. It didn’t just happen. It’s taken over 16 years.”
The couple initially grew only flowers. Up until 2008 they were the largest specialty cut flower farm in the state selling up to 300 bouquets a week in stores. And it was all done organically. Said Lynn Marchetti, “I’m the kind of farmer that reaches down and touches the dirt. When’s the last time most farmers can say that?
“I grew up only knowing how to farm organically. The word organic wasn’t even part of the language of that time.”
Lynn Marchetti believes “the whole organic thing is about sustainability, a closed loop.” But, there wasn’t much support early on. That’s why the Marchettis put together the Tennessee Organic Growers Association in 2001, to gain much needed recognition for organic growers in the state. The association grew to two dozen farms in just a few years. They also started building markets so they could sell their crops and goods. They started the Franklin Farmers Market and helped to start the East Nashville Farmers Market. “These were producer-only markets where everything had to come from your own farm. This was an important part of our growth,” says Lynn Marchetti.
But in 2008 when the economy turned, business dropped for the farm. The Marchettis knew they’d need to adapt. That year they opened the farm to the public, began planting both vegetables and flowers and also started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where customers buy a share of the fresh grown food. “When we started the CSA it was again all about sustainability for me. How can I stay on-farm?” said Lynn Marchetti, who still tours about 80 days a year. They pulled away from the farmers markets. “Let them come here,” she says. “it’s a better experience.”
The farm has a Spring/Summer CSA which runs April through July, and a Fall CSA which runs late August through October with bi-weekly, on-farm pickup. Lynn Marchetti says, “The whole concept for the CSA was we pack the baskets with vegetables and then they can go cut their flowers and herbs. They can also go get more beans or lettuce or whatever. You look out there and see all these little kids running around. Grandma and grandpa’s farms are getting so far in between now. This is their moment of nature.”
And on Saturday mornings during the season they open the farm completely to the public, not just CSA customers, to come out and cut flowers. On some of those Saturdays, Lynn Marchetti even hosts a Market Day where they sell jams, jellies and pies she makes from scratch. “There’s no place else you can go and say this blackberry pie comes from here from start to finish,” she says. It’s certainly well received with customers lining up the drive by 7 a.m. at times.
But you can’t talk about Madison Creek Farms without mentioning what the Marchettis call ‘the wedding tree.’ Marchetti reflects, “When we first came out here Peggy looked at that tree which was then in a forest and said ‘you know, there’s something really special about it.’ Then we started the farm and people would come out to buy vegetables and flowers and they’d say they’d like to get married out there. Peggy loved the idea, but again, it took me awhile. I didn’t grow up like that.”
Lynn Marchetti however grew up on her mother’s ranch in Hurricane Mills which was the seventh-largest tourist attraction in Tennessee so she was much more comfortable having the public in her home. But, says Marchetti, “We had our first wedding by the tree and it was spiritual. I looked out with tears in my eyes watching the ceremony. Then I realized this was a great idea.” Now they host weddings in May, June, September and October.
Yet even with its storied history, make no mistake, Madison Creek Farms is not a tourist attraction. There’s no memorabilia, no impromptu concerts. “This isn’t the place for that,” says Lynn Marchetti. “The people that come here; most don’t even know. It’s not relevant to them and it’s nice that there’s another reason they’re here.”
For all the farm offers, to the Marchettis it represents a place where life is simple. “This is the last vestige of my mother’s and father’s simple life, before Loretta became a country music icon. This was the last place she had her own little garden that she still talks about to this day. This was her favorite place,” says Lynn Marchetti.
It also represents a place where a sense of community can blossom, cultivated by the warm, welcoming spirit of the Marchettis. “It’s really important to protect these little places. This farm was going to be 80 houses. Look at it now,” she says.
All told, Madison Creek Farms is a place to be treasured. Lynn Marchetti sums it up perfectly, “This is our church. And it brings so much to everyone who experiences it.”