Others get psyched when big-name musicians come to town. I, on the other hand, get juiced up about food markets. And so I’m very excited about the opening of the Boston Public Market.
The seeds were planted in 2001 when a group formed to create a public market near the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway (where previously an ugly expressway had severed Boston in half, but that was toppled during the Big Dig). In fact, the roots to this market can be traced back farther. Boston’s Faneuil Hall, a public market house built in 1742 by Peter Faneuil (a wealthy local merchant), was once the hub of Boston’s food scene.
In the early 1800s, the Quincy Market building was erected to accommodate the fast-growing market. It flourished as Boston’s main marketplace, with grocers, fishermen, and other merchants.
Shopping habits changed, with customers taking their business to supermarkets instead, and building conditions deteriorated. In the 1970s, it was transformed into a different kind of urban marketplace and gathering spot. The emphasis shifted to more of a festival atmosphere featuring souvenir shops, prepared foods, and street entertainers. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is still popular, especially among tourists and the downtown business crowd, but it lost nearly all connection to “real” food.
Enter the new Boston Public Market, which opens on July 30. It’s an indoor, year-round market with a two-fold mission of providing fresh, healthy food and educating the public about food sources, nutrition, and preparation. The distinctive element about this market is that everything sold at the Boston Public Market has been produced or originated in New England. The fruits and vegetables were grown at local farms, the fish were caught in local waters, the prepared foods were handmade in local kitchens, and the relatively few vendors peddling non-edible goods also have a local provenance, such as tableware fashioned from local fieldstone.
The list of 35+ vendors reads like a Who’s Who of some of the area’s finest producers. Siena Farms (Sudbury, MA), Silverbrook Farm (Dartmouth, MA), and Lakeside Organics (Hadley, MA) sell seasonal produce. Cellars at Jasper Hill (Greensboro Bend, VT) and Appleton Farms (Ipswich, MA) produce artisanal cheeses and other dairy products. For meats, Chestnut Farms and Stillman’s (Hardwick, MA) raise grass-fed, hormone-free animals. Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery (Winchester, MA) specializes in breads and pastries. And there are plentiful options for washing down all this food: a local brewery and a Massachusetts wine association have stalls, and George Howell, (a local legend as the founder of The Coffee Connection in Harvard Square years ago) will be selling coffee. Prepared foods include popular local favorites such as Bon Me for Vietnamese dishes and Noodle Lab for Japanese ramen. And of course it wouldn’t be New England without fish and shellfish. Red’s Best, based nearby on the Boston pier, has got that covered. Taza Chocolates (Somerville, MA) makes stoneground organic chocolates, and Union Square Donuts (also Somerville, MA) will be selling donuts. Maple Bacon donuts, anyone? As long as the supply lasts. Get there early is all I can say.
Besides providing (mostly) healthy and (entirely) local foods, the market’s other mission is to educate the public. To that end, they’ll be offering cooking demos and other classes in a large space at the market called The Kitchen. REI will conduct yoga classes, and more fitness programs will be added over time. The programming is sponsored by Trustees of Reservations (land, that is, not restaurants).
The timing couldn’t be better for this addition to the local food scene. Boston is being revitalized with lots of good energy, young residents, and beautiful public spaces and art. And it’s about to get a whole lot better, with a new market featuring high-quality regional foods that’s open 5 days a week.
The Boston Public Market is located at 100 Hanover St. (above the Haymarket MBTA station) in Boston, Massachusetts
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Grand opening is July 30, 2015, with festivities starting at 11 a.m.