A  Participatory Process Guides Plans for Creating a Community Destination in Downtown Boston

Plans are underway to transform the first floor of an empty building in downtown Boston into a hub for local food. From the start, the process has been guided by local residents who say they want their market to feature fresh food from the region’s farmers and local food producers.

Community members brainstorm possible partners and activities they'd like to see at the year-round public market

Last week, more than 200 residents showed up to two workshops to help plan the future of Parcel 7, a MassDOT-owned building adjacent to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. PPS’ Markets team returned to Boston to facilitate the meetings and give guidance on what makes a successful market. An earlier visit this year to the site kicked-off the newest phase of this planning process and involved a focus group to envision the market’s future.
Community Workshop

The first of two meetings, a community workshop last week brought over 100 attendees from all over the city.  After a presentation from PPS on what makes a successful market, attendees worked together in small groups to envision how they want the market to ‘look’ and ‘feel:’ they concentrated on what they want to buy at the market, what activities they want to see, and what partners could be brought in to help implement the activities.  Attendees said they want a market that showcases the rich history of Boston and the New England region and that they want the market to feature:

  • a variety of local and ethnic food
  • agriculture and food-centered educational events
  • seasonal activities such as a fall cranberry festival featuring demonstration cranberry bogs and sheep-shearing in the Spring
  • the rich history of Boston and the New England Region
  • local partners like culinary schools and health groups

Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources Commissioner Scott Soares leads a discussion at the vendor meeting

Vendor Meeting

A second meeting brought together more than 100 potential vendors, including farmers, fishermen, specialty food business-owners and restaurateurs to learn what makes a successful market business and operational information such as when the market might open, how much it might cost to participate and what types of products might be sold there.

This visit is part of PPS’ work with MassDOT and the MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to make this market into a treasured community place and a hub for regional food that could become an important node in New England’s agricultural economy. PPS will take all of the input gathered from these meetings and include them in an implementation guidebook we’re creating for the State.

Want to learn more about how you can create a great market?
Come to PPS’ Spring training session in New York: “How to Create Successful Markets,” May 20-21, 2011.