The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture has issued the long-awaited Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Boston Public Food Market developer and operator. The proposed public market will be located on the ground floor of the Parcel 7 garage, next to Haymarket and Greenway on Surface Road across from the North End. The space has been empty for 10+ years since the MassDOT building was constructed as part of the Big Dig.

The MDAR is specifically favoring Massachusetts-only products for the Boston Public Food Market. According to the RFP, “The proposed food market (the “Public Market”) will provide Massachusetts farmers, fish and seafood producers, and producers of agricultural and specialty produce with a year-round venue for direct sales, and will help to create jobs both at the Public Market and for producers. The Public Market will provide consumers with an opportunity to both learn about and purchase healthy, sustainable food. The products offered at the Public Market will respond to the cultural and economic diversity of Massachusetts.”

The State has funded $4 million to set up the building for the Public Market and could allocate more as the cost is expected to total $8.5 million. The non-profit Boston Public Market Association has been the most visible interested bidder in the process.

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One concern noted at previous meetings is the availability of Massachusetts-based products in the winter. Also, the Public Market will be next to the Haymarket Pushcart vendors that operate Thursday through Saturday year-round. Haymarket will benefit from the proposed improvements of its market, including indoor stalls, as part of the anticipated Parcel 9 development. Most of Haymarket’s produce comes from the Chelsea wholesale market allowing for prices much lower than those expected at the Boston Public Market.

Proposals for the Public Food Market developer and operator are due on March 2, 2012.  The market may even be open for the Summer/Fall of 2012 if the process proceeds quick enough. View the complete Public Market Request for Proposal.

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