Boston, MA - Sustainability’s been the buzzword on everyone’s lips for the past several years; among both diners, restaurateurs and savvy marketing execs alike. And while sustainability monitoring and fair trade initiatives have become a global phenomenon with global impact, it seems like many diners are unaware of the direct local impact they can make simply with their own daily purchasing habits.
The number of farmers markets nationally has exploded from under 2,000 in 1994 to close to 9,000 in 2017—with some 330 regionally specific markets in Massachusetts alone. In 2016, Massachusetts ranked fifth in the nation for direct market sales with an estimated $48 million in revenue being generated by farmers markets. And given that many markets have stringent regulations on vendor proximity as well as production standards, the impact is not solely economic.
This is far from a recent trend; historians credit Boston with developing the first in the country as far back as 1634. But statistics are one thing; convenience is another. Here’s five of the top ones in the greater Boston area:
Haymarket Open Air Market
No, it’s not technically a farmers market; but with over two dozen vendors offering everything from flowers to Asian specialties to the freshest seafood that you haven’t had to catch yourself, it may as well constitute one. With a history dating back over two hundred years (and subsequently one of the oldest in the country), Haymarket’s as much a tourist destination as it is a merchant sideshow. Be warned if you have a fear of crowds; customer lines can wrap well around the block (particularly during peak summer seasons.)
Haymarket Open Air market is located on Blackstone St in Boston (between Hanover and North) and is open from early March to late November each Friday and Saturday from 4:00 am - close (typically, 8:00 pm.) For more information, visit www.haymarketboston.org/
Copley Square Farmers Market
We’d like to think that Haymarket can easily lay claim to Copley Square’s self-described motto of “Boston’s biggest and busiest market”; but the latter is a clear contender. With vendors from all over New England vying to set up shop, you’re bound to find just about any imaginable form of produce you have in mind; with the vast majority being certifiably GMO-free. This is the Back Bay, however, so prices are going to veer towards the higher end.
Copley Square Farmers Market is located at 139 St James Ave in Boston and is open from May 11 to November 20th each Tuesday and Friday from 11:00 am - 6:00 pm. For more information, visit massfarmersmarkets.org/copley/
Central Square Farmers Market
Probably one of greater Boston’s most diverse farmers markets, Central Square also plays host to a rotating vendor selection of prepared street foods, including (this season) Mexican and Egyptian delicacies (and we cannot rave enough about the latter; vegans take note.) Yes, it’s tiny in comparison with the previous two; but you’ll be able to find much, much more than you ever expected.
Central Square Farmers Market is located at 76 Bishop Allen Drive in Cambridge and is open each Monday from 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm May 14th to November 19th. For more information, visit massfarmersmarkets.org/central/
Union Square Farmers Market
The fact that more out-of--towners don’t know about Union Square is perhaps to Somerville’s advantage. Then again, with only a tiny four-hour window frame each Saturday to enjoy over thirty different small batch vendors (including local wineries and specialty purveyors) as well as pop-up events, your loss is their gain.
Union Square Farmers Market is located at 253 Washington St in Somerville and is open each Saturday from May 12th to November 17th from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/unionsquaremarkets/
Ashmont Farmers Market
If you were thinking that size is everything, you’re mistaken at Ashmont Farmers Market. Yes, there are only an average of four vendors on-site. The reason? Not only do they have to be within a 35-mile radius of the site, but the Farmers Market also serves as a hub for local musicians to perform and artists to display their wares.
Ashmont Farmers Market is located at 1900 Dorchester Ave in Boston and is open each Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 pm between June 29th through October 19th. For more information, visit greaterashmont.org/farmers-market/