The BBC has a great programme – Morocco to Timbuktu – presented by Alice Morrison. The first part shows some wonderful markets and it is well worth watching if you have access. The second part is this Thursday.
If you can access BBC iplayer, there is a BBC World Service radio series set in a Nigerian market – you can find it here
A new book by Julian Dobson – How to save our town centres – includes discussion on how traditional markets, as long-established local hubs, are the key to a successful future for UK high streets. Dobson has written an interesting article (with photographs) that explains some of his thinking in the Guardian.
This features examples such as Queen’s Market in East London and it’s struggles against development by Newham Council and private developers – backed by the local community and the Friends of Queen’s market campaign. Interviews with long-standing traders on Bury Market, Lancashire where he brings out the theatrical skills of the market traders and the tension with local supermarkets. The article also provides a brief summary of developments in the UK over the past 7 or 8 years and gives some examples of where local communities have tried to fight back, such as Brixton Village – where early success has been countered by a wave of gentrification and rent price hikes by the private market operators. He concludes by saying there is a need to re-think traditional markets but also build on ‘old’ ideas of ‘local benefit and commercial activity’ if we are to ‘rehumanise the concept of exchange’ and bring our town centres back to life.
You can read the full article here
The Final Mile: Food Systems of New York is a new initiative by OpenHouse and is a year-long series of public programs, intended to shed light on New York City’s dynamic and multi-layered food economy. The series of tours and events aim to help New Yorkers better understand how food shapes the city in critical ways that all too often go unnoticed.
There is a good introduction on the blog which talks about how ‘every plate of food that we eat represents a vast network of interconnected spaces, large and small, that facilitated the flow and preparation of the ingredients of that meal‘. It provides some staggering statistics about the city, including 24,000 restaurants, 5,500 supermarkets, groceries and convenience stores; 1,730 food wholesalers and 120 farmers’ markets.
The city’s largest produce market (Hunts Point) handles 210 million packages of fresh fruit and vegetables each year and the fish market (New Fulton) sells millions of seafood daily and annual sales exceed one billion dollars.
Why the Final Mile? This is what the blog says:
The final mile is a phrase borrowed from the telecommunications industry to describe the challenges of distributing goods and services—in this case, food—from a central hub to multiple end-users. It is commonly understood as the most problematic and expensive leg of any supply chain; whether literal or metaphorical, the last “mile” is the most difficult because it is where the system makes its final transition from the large scale to the finely grained. The average journey for food sold in New York City is 1,500 miles, because it is actually easier to ship ten tons of produce around the world than it is to get a banana from the warehouse to the bodega shelf.
You can read more about it here
There is a good piece (from PPS) about traditional markets throughout the world that are under threat from issues such as physical neglect, war, poor management, competition from international chain stores, and real estate pressures on the Sustainable Cities Collective website.
You can read the article and see the images here
You can read about – and sign – the 9th International Public Markets Conference Declaration on the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) website. This sums up some of the collective outputs from the Conference, attended by 425 participants—representing 45 countries and 119 cities – and is designed to highlight the value of public (traditional) markets, their crucial importance for linking urban and rural communities, and the need for increased funding and policy recognition at all levels.
Worth signing up to!
The 9th International Markets Conference was held in Barcelona 26-28 March and was hosted by the Project for Public Spaces – this link also has a good article on Barcelona as part of PPS work on Market Cities. The conference sounds a great success and there is a blog posting from Foodshare, Toronto with a few thoughts about indoor v outdoor markets and their own work with getting fresh produce to low income communities here.
No doubt more reports will follow.