July 17, 2018

$500K state grant to benefit new Worcester market

Photo | File
A rendering of the Harding Green development in Kelley Square.
Photo/Grant Welker
The Harding Green site under construction in May.

The state has awarded a $500,000 for kitchen equipment at a planned food market in Worcester's Canal District.

The funding announced Monday from the state's Department of Agricultural Resources will be used to purchase specialized equipment for Worcester Public Market's manufacturing operation that will focus primarily on processing Massachusetts-grown and -harvested food products.

The facility is planned for part of a $21-million development just off Kelley Square called Harding Green. Developer Allen Fletcher has said the market is planned to include 30 to 40 retail vendors.

Edith Murnane, who has been named the director of the Worcester Public Market, said the market will include an incubator for small food ventures and will work with the Worcester Regional Food Hub, a start-up space now based at the Worcester County Food Bank in Shrewsbury.

"It's about wanting to connect with people," Murnane said of the draw of public markets. "People find them engaging. People like to be able to engage with people directly in regards to the foods they're purchasing."

The market is expected to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds, or food stamps, as a way of helping people get fresh and healthy produce, Murnane said.

Harding Green will also feature 48 apartments in three floors above the market. Construction began in May and is expected to be complete by next summer. The site, next to BirchTree Bread Co., Crompton Collective and other retailers, has been vacant since buildings on the site were torn down in 2011.

Worcester Public Market was one of three recipients of funding announced Tuesday, along with a farm in the Western Massachusetts town of Sunderland and a nonprofit community kitchen in Boston. The funding is part of the Massachusetts Food Ventures Program, which aims to expand access to local food and encourage new food-based ventures.


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