We live by the sea, but up until three weeks ago buying a fish just caught by a nearby boat was a whole lot harder.
Now South Enders can get day-boat fish at more local farmers' markets, including the on Tuesdays. A pilot program had been in place at the City Hall Plaza Farmer's Market since May. Farmers' markets throughout the city are now participating.
"For the first time since the original Faneuil Hall Market Place closed its doors in the mid-1900s, Boston residents, workers, and visitors will be able to purchase fresh, healthy day-boat fish in a vibrant urban market setting," Mayor Thomas Menino said in a press release announcing the program back in May. "This is truly an exciting program that expands access to healthy foods and represents a culinary option that is unique to Boston."
The partnership is between the city, Red's Best Seafood, and Cape Cod Fish Share — where co-founder Dave Henchy was doing much of the heavy lifting, literally, Tuesday at the Copley Square Farmer's Market.
"We skin it, filet it, and put it in an icepack," he said between waiting on the customers lined up to receive their catches. The business started in October 2011 with 50 - 60 customers, and has now grown to 500 - 600 customers, Henchy said.
Cape Cod Fish Share offers retail at both the and City Feed in Jamaica Plain, and recently launched share pickups at farmers markets in Amherst, Watertown, the Cape, and of course Boston. Has there been an increase because of that?
"It's tripled since the first time," Henchy said with a laugh. He's been working with the city for months to get the program into farmers markets, and part of the appeal is to provide affordable and nutritious seafood to underserved communities.
The price of a six-week share ranges from $149-$229, includes at least two different species each week, and works out to be about $5-$6 per plate. Sign up now for the next share , which starts at the end of August/early September.
"That’s what makes this pilot so exciting," the city says in its press release. "Not only will day-boat fish be available across the street from the original Faneuil Hall, at the City Hall Farmers’ Market, but also at various neighborhood markets including East Boston, Mattapan, and Dorchester."
All the fish is line-caught eight to 25 miles off the coast of Chatham and "the journey to the plate is within two days, max." To compare, mass market fish usually takes eight to 10 days to make it into retail stores, Henchy said.
The sustainable fishing practices are one thing. But from lobster to scallops, striped bass to swordfish, there's another reason the shares have grown so much in the past year.
"What people really like is the taste," Henchy said. "That's the bottom line. They haven't had seafood like this until they try it."
Participating Farmer's Market Sites:
South Boston Farmers’ Market
446 W. Broadway (Btwn Mt. Washington & Bank of America)
Copley Square Farmers Market
Dewey Square Farmers Market
City Hall Plaza
East Boston Farmers Market
Central Square (Bennington & Meridian Streets)
Bowdoin Geneva Farmers’ Market, 230 Bowdoin Street (Bowdoin Street Health Center)
Allston Farmers Market, N. Harvard & Western Avenues
Ashmont Farmers Market
Mattapan Farmers Market