Nashville’s Big Back Yard project highlights small cities of Southern Middle Tennessee

By KATE COIL

A new initiative is highlighting the charm and hometown feel of several rural communities located between Nashville and the Shoals region of Northern Alabama.
The “Nashville’s Big Back Yard” movement highlights the rural communities and amenities between Tennessee’s capitol city and Northern Alabama. The municipalities of Centerville, Clifton, Collinwood, Hohenwald, Linden, Loretto, Mt. Pleasant, and Waynesboro as well as the unincorporated communities of Hampshire, Leiper’s Fork, Santa Fe, and Summertown are among the communities participating in the project. Nashville’s Big Back Yard is designed to put a focus on communities with a population of 5,000 or less.
The initiative is being spearheaded by American Picker’s star and Williamson County resident Mike Wolfe, Leiper’s Fork-based philanthropist Aubrey Preston, and community leaders as a way to showcase the open spaces, small-town Main Streets, world-class music culture, and other hidden gems in the region. As working from home has become more the norm during the pandemic, the project also intends to show that small town life has its benefits.

Centerville
Centerville Mayor Gary Jacobs said the Nashville’s Big Back Yard project is a way for people to learn what rural communities have to offer.
“It’s something we are very excited about,” Jacobs said. “These are places that are not normally on folks’ radar, which makes them the hidden gems they are. They haven’t been spoiled. This area comprises of a complex tapestry of life outside the crowded urban areas of Middle Tennessee. Out here there is clean air, clean water, abundance of natural resources, and affordable land. Each one of these towns is unique its own way. Each one of these 13 towns gives you a different experience.”
Jacobs said Centerville has a lot to do for people with a wide variety of interests.
“This is a great place to both visit and to relocate,” he said. “You get away from the hustle and bustle. We are hoping to see an increase in travel for people looking for day trips or to follow historical trails through the state. Centerville has the northern route of the Trail of Tears, Civil War activity, and our musical heritage is pretty strong. We are the home of Sarah Cannon who became Minnie Pearl. Del Reeves lived here and Blake Shelton lived here when he was first getting started. J.I. Allison who was the drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets lives here. We have live country music in Centerville at the Grinders Switch Center every Saturday. We have the second oldest live radio broadcast in the country every Saturday morning.”

Collinwood
Collinwood City Manager Gary Victory said his community is excited to be part of the Nashville’s Big Back Yard initiative.
“Collinwood is located along the Natchez Trace, and we see this as an opportunity to get the word out on what we have to offer here,” Victory said. “We are a close community and look forward to receiving visitors that hopefully will realize what a great place Collinwood is and will decide to relocate here. Hopefully this will help in getting better Internet throughout all of Wayne County as this will be a driving force getting people to move here and to work remotely. It‘s a very exciting time right now and we look forward to the future and what it could bring.”

Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant City Manager Kate Collier said the program is a great way to show off small town accomplishments.
The city of Mount Pleasant is so excited about being a part of the Nashville’s Big Back Yard,” Collier said. “We are uniquely situated an hour from Nashville with a very diverse population and three State Certified S.T.E.A.M. Schools. Why not let the world know about how great living is in our beautiful, rural, historic town? In these unprecedented times people will appreciate the lifestyle these small towns have to offer.”
Nashville‘s Big Back Yard (NBBY) region is anchored by 100 miles of the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway that connects communities with populations under 5,000. In the age of coronavirus, small communities are seeing a surge of interest from people who are drawn to rural living, remote work, and an affordable lifestyle.
Mike Wolfe said that one of the goals of the initiative is to help people rethink where they live and work.
“This global pandemic is making folks rethink how and where they want to live and work,” Wolfe said “I know first-hand how much rural communities have to offer. Now is the perfect time to think about getting out of the cities, and back to small town Main Streets and open spaces. I’m honored to help shine a light on the communities in Nashville‘s Big Back Yard.”
To help roll out Nashville‘s Big Back Yard, Wolfe produced social media content that is being used on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote communities in the region. Wolfe is working alongside Aubrey Preston to promote the initiative.
“While COVID has dealt a devastating blow to our nation’s public health and economy, it also has led people and communities to think about who we are and what we do,” Preston said. “The land is calling people back, and Nashville’s Big Back Yard has an abundance of land, water and world-class music. We’re inviting folks to come and play in our big backyard”
The spring 2020 Harris Poll survey found nearly 40% of U.S. adults living in urban areas said they would consider moving “out of populated areas and toward rural areas.”
According to data from the National Association of Realtors, median home prices in Nashville‘s Big Back Yard averaged less than $170,000 versus the national median home price of $241,300.
For more information, visit www.nashvillesbigbackyard.org.