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Pittsburgh Public Market, We’re So Glad You’re Here!

 

Yummy Plants is grateful to Neighbors in the Strip for bringing a public market back to Pittsburgh!   More than 40 years after the closure of the last public market on the North Side, the Pittsburgh Public Market opened last September in the Strip.  It took a lot of hard work and dedicated individuals to make this locavore haven a reality.  We’re excited to bring you the story of the Pittsburgh Public Market as this month’s feature story.  Here’s why you should go and visit…

The Pittsburgh Public Market sizzles, dazzles, and delights.  It is located in the Produce Terminal Building, Smallman Street at 17th Street, in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District, a diverse mix of groceries and shops.  A perfect venue for the locavore, the Market offers fresh produce from local farms, a variety of baked goods – including gluten-free and vegan – and hand-crafted items.  Shoppers can feast on tasty ethnic snacks or hearty meals.  Although Pittsburgh Public Market celebrates the local, it tickles the palate with global treats like Indian kachori (spicy vegan green pea and lentil snacks) and Italian calzone-like sandwiches that are actually vegan!

The Market is the brainchild of Neighbors in the Strip, a non-profit organization formed by Strip merchants and residents.   Becky Rodgers, Executive Director of Neighbors in the Strip, wondered if major cities like Philadephia, New York City and San Francisco have a public market, why can’t Pittsburgh have one too?  That was how the dream began.  Step by step with community partners and grants, Becky Rodgers and Cindy Cassell, now the Merket Manager of the Pittsburgh Public Market, worked to make their dream a reality.  According to Becky and Cindy, it took about six years and a great plan by Pittsburgh architecture firm Indovina Associates to move the Market from grand idea to grand opening in September 2010.  The current space is 10,000 sq.ft. but they hope to grow the Market to 30,000 sq. ft. within five years!

Supporting the strong entrepreneurial spirit in Pittsburgh, the Market serves as a business incubator for the many small vendors who rent space Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the three weekend days that the Market is open.  Funded through local, state, and federal grants as well as philanthropy, the public funding allows farmers, craftspeople, and business owners to open a weekend shop with a small investment.  “People can start at the Market out of their savings,” Becky said.  In addition to space, the Market offers its vendors business training and assistance with social media marketing strategies.

For consumers, it’s been fun to see how the Market has been changing its product mix even in the short time since it has opened.  Market Manager Cindy Cassell, who began as a volunteer with Neighbors in the Strip, explained that the Pittsburgh Public Market is very consumer-driven.  “Shoppers can get to know the merchants and ask about the foods.  Our vendors make special efforts to provide products our customers want,” she said.  Right now, several merchants are developing more vegan, gluten-free, and natural and organic products.

So for all of you locavores who are longing for a place to get your winter fruits and veggies, come and visit the Pittsburgh Public Market.  You can munch a bunch, see locally made crafts, and have a lot of fun!

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