Patrick Pledges $10m for Development of Year-Round Boston Public Marketplace

Artist's Rendering -- Boston Public Marketplace

An artist's rendering -- or perhaps an artist's six year old daughter's rendering -- of the future Boston Public Marketplace. // boston.com

Important food news this morning: from the pages of the Boston Globe comes word that Governor Deval Patrick has pledged $10m in financing toward establishing the city’s first year-round Public Food Market since the last one closed in the 1950s. The funding, awarded to the Boston Public Market Association, helps clear a major financial hurdle toward getting the market — which will provide a year-round indoor facility for local vendors and producers to showcase their goods — off the ground. According to the Globe, the market could be up and running by the end of 2011, though additional sources of funding will still be needed. It’s a potentially enormous development for the people of the city.

Boston has long lacked such a market; according to the Globe, the last was closed in the 1950s, when buildings in and around Faneuil Hall fell so badly into disrepair that vendors were ultimately forced to flee. This time around, it’s the opposite sort of story: the market is planned for a large — and largely unoccupied — state-owned property on the corner of Hanover and Blackstone Streets, immediately adjacent the current Haymarket site. It’s an attractive and relatively new brick structure which was built as part of the city’s redevelopment plan for the area, but never occupied. The market will (hopefully) rescuscitate the long-ignored city block, which stands as a bridge between the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market area and Boston’s famed North End.

Future Site of Boston Public Marketplace

The marketplace building as it looked this morning. The site currently sits almost completely empty. It smells bad, too.

It will also hopefully swallow up the Haymarket, which is crowded, dirty, and essentially a bit of a tub-throw: though its often called a “farmers market,” the people who sell food there are actually just peddling wholesale produce which area supermarkets have no need for (because it’s excess, about to go bad, or both). Anything you buy at Haymarket is better than anything you buy at Burger King, but there are better ways to feed the city’s people than with faceless supermarket refuse of unknown origin. Every time a person chooses Haymarket over a farmers market, it’s a failure of the state and local economy to funnel dollars to where they are truly needed.

If successful, the Boston Public Market will do just that: establish a truly local market where people from around the city can go to purchase (and thus encourage) anything and everything New England’s food scene has to offer. Turnips, beer, maple syrup, oysters, bacon, eggs; all are produced in New England, and with any luck, all will be just a fraction of the goods sold here. With even more luck, the market will encourage future economic support for projects which will allow even more food to be sustainably grown and produced here. Imagine if all (or even some) of the time and money which goes toward casino development in Massachusetts went instead toward developing modern, sustainable farms? If the project succeeds, this notion could begin to look more and more realistic in the coming administrations, especially if it proves a hit with tourists, as other iconic local marketplaces across the countries have.

There is an embarrassing dearth of quality food options in downtown Boston; the Public Market deal signals that maybe, finally, the downtown area is beginning to shake off five decades of culinary malaise. The local government is finally starting to catch up to the area’s glut of talented minds; in a city bordered by bunches of world-class businesses and universities, it’s an absolute farce that none among us would have any clue where to go if we wanted to taste something so basic as a local potato. Hopefully, by the end of next year, we — and everyone else, local or otherwise — won’t have to wonder anymore.

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3 Responses to Patrick Pledges $10m for Development of Year-Round Boston Public Marketplace

  1. BPM says:

    Thanks for your terrific piece on the proposed site for a public market on Parcel 7 of the Greenway. While we hope the Boston Public Market will ultimately be chosen for the site, the funding for a public arket is not specific to one organization and a public process will be held for the site and funding.

    Thanks!

    • Finn says:

      Yeah — I think that, when the story broke, the reporting indicated that there were a few more i’s dotted and t’s crossed than was actually the case. At any rate, hopefully the process won’t be hamstrung by those sorts of issues, and we can get this future landmark running in the reasonably near future.

  2. Pingback: Boston Area Farmers Markets: 2011 « eyes wide stomach

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