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Market Scene: Copley Square Market in Boston

Note: This week we add Boston to our mix of Market Scene reports. Penny Cherubino, of BostonZest, reports.

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Photographs by Penny Cherubino

There's been a farmers' market in Copley Square for decades. Long before the local food movement took hold, residents and workers in the historic heart of Boston have been buying fresh, local products from Massachusetts farms at this location.

In the past five years, this market has doubled in size. On Tuesdays and Fridays the park is turned into a festival of fresh produce, eggs, meat, smoked fish, cheese, specialty food products, baked goods, plants, cut flowers, crafts, and prepared foods.

This week I saw greens everywhere—lettuce, Swiss chard, Asian varieties, collards, mustard, spinach, and bok choy. And, there were more strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, cucumbers, beets, leeks, scallions, turnips, carrots, and tomatoes than last week.

I find some of Copley's more exotic offerings at the Siena Farms stand. This week, they were selling rainbow carrots, pea tendrils, green garlic, garlic scrapes, and shiitake mushrooms. Last week they added bok choy flowers to their mesclun mix.

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Siena farmer Chris Kurth is married to chef Ana Sortun of Oleana Restaurant and Sofra Bakery. The two are great partners in the circle that brings together farmers, chefs, and consumers.

Kurth says Sortun influences what he grows and brings to market. "Green garlic was her idea. I used to grow garlic for the bulbs. She gave me a big heads-up that there are (other) moments in the season to use garlic."

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Sortun introduces Oleana diners to products like green garlic, Tuscan kale, frisée, and pea tendrils. Diners tastes then expand, and they're willing to buy these items when they appear at the market.

Kurth explained how the farm's abundance challenges Sortun to create new ways to use the seasonal bounty. For example, this week the prepared lunch offerings from Sofra Bakery (sold at the Siena stand) included a dish of spicy chicken, radish, and bok choy.

Siena is one of many vendors at the market offering prepared food, from sandwiches to summer rolls. This allows customers to grab a quick lunch while we shop the market.

The Copley Farmers Market runs from mid May to Thanksgiving on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thirty vendors are scheduled to take part in the market this year.

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