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What is a Public Market, and What Makes the Boston Public Market Special?

Boston Public Market Render - Congress and Hanover ViewIn July, the Boston Public Market will open on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston. 

Lots of cities have public markets – you might be familiar with Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, Pike Place in Seattle, or Chelsea Market in New York City. You might have visited a public market in cities around the world like Santiago, Chile, Modena, Italy, or Old Delhi, India. Public markets can take various forms, and each is a unique reflection of the city where it’s located. No two public markets are the same, but there are a few things that define a public market and make it different from a local farmers market or chain supermarket.

A public market primarily sells food.

Different public markets focus on different types of products, but typically, a shopper can find produce, meat, fish, dairy products, baked goods, coffee, spices, and various specialty and prepared foods. Some markets also sell flowers, beverages, crafts or other related non-food items. 

A public market is open year-round.

Unlike farmers markets, which often exist only during the spring and summer and may pop up just once or twice a week, a public market is open daily, all year round, in a permanent location.

A public market is made up of small independent businesses, and each shop or stall is owner-operated. 

Rather than one company selling every item, like you would find in a supermarket, a public market features dozens of vendors selling food and other products.

A public market fulfills a public purpose beyond retail food sales.

A public market is more than just a place to shop; it provides customers with an experience. A public market is a bustling and vibrant place that brings people together to taste new flavors, learn from educational workshops and classes, watch the process of food being made, or develop new friendships. A public market is a civic resource for everyone.

You’ll find these things in public markets around the country and all over the world. So what makes the Boston Public Market unique? 

It’s our focus on local food: the Boston Public Market will be the only locally-sourced market of its kind in the United States. Everything sold at the Market will be produced or originate in New England.

Since 2007, Massachusetts’ participation in community supported agriculture (CSA) has nearly doubled and agri-tourism sales have grown 127%. While nationally the U.S. witnessed a decline in agriculture from 2007 to 2012, Massachusetts was one of the few states that experienced growth in both number of farms and acres of farmland. The Boston Public Market builds on that progress by connecting the public to farmers, fishermen, and food producers from Massachusetts and throughout New England.

We can’t wait to welcome you.


Tiffani Emig is the Market Manager of the Boston Public Market.