The Public Market
September 23, 2009 11:52 AM
I spent the weekend in Toronto, and on Saturday I had a chance to visit the St. Lawrence Market in the city's historic district. The St. Lawrence Market is a year-round indoor (and believe it or not outdoor) farmers market. But it goes beyond just farmers' produce to also include butchers, seafood providers, bakers and other purveyors of good food. And, like our Capitol Square farmers market it's also a scene to behold.
On a beautiful Saturday morning the place was packed as were the shops surrounding the market itself. The experience got me reenergized for discussions about our own potential public market here in Madison. A recent consultant's report suggested that a public market could be built on the Brayton Lot, which is a city and state owned parking lot behind the GEF 1 building on East Washington Avenue just off the Square. Because I'm not yet convinced that that's the right site (two awfully dull blocks separate that block from the Square) we're taking a look at two or three other potential locations.
A public market won't happen in Madison for awhile. It's important to focus civic energy and fundraising so that energy doesn't get too diffused. And right now that focus should be on the central library. Still, in an agricultural region as rich as ours and with a local foods movement as strong as this one, I have to believe that a Madison public market has to be in our future.