A Year-Round Market for Boston?

1202144644During the warm weather months, Boston is blessed with an abundance of local farmers markets. But it lacks a central year-round market along the lines of Seattle’s Pike Place, San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, or New York’s Union Square Greenmarket.

This wasn’t always the case: Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market were once home to a thriving collection of fishmongers, greengrocers, butchers, and bakers (probably even candlestick makers) as far back as the early 1800s. But those vendors were eventually replaced by today’s takeout food stands, making the Haymarket the only year-round source of produce and fish (I’ll leave discussions of quality and atmosphere to another post).

For the past few years, the Boston Public Market Association has been trying to rally support for a new permanent indoor market. But progress is slow. Finding a location is a challenge: centralized spots (think City Hall Plaza) lack easy parking; others are too far from public transport. Then there’s the question of whether Bostonians will make a habit of supporting the market during the cold weather months.

Executive director Howard Leibowitz says his board is planning a series of meetings in the coming month to explore locations and to assess state and local support for the project. The association also recently met with a group of chefs to explore whether the market could be a regular supplier to the restaurant industry; many are interested, but there are logistical challenges to work through first (such as parking, pricing, streamlined ordering, etc.).

During a stint in San Francisco, I savored my weekly trips to the Ferry Plaza market. Once I got in the habit, it became a highlight of the week, a place to meet up with friends for breakfast and shopping. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Boston equivalent. If you’re interested in the project, or would like to help out, you can contact the association via their website.