Magazine

Honorable Mention

Liz Morningstar: The hero to New England farmers

It seemed like the Boston Public Market would never happen. Then she came along.

Craig F. Walker / Globe Staff

For more honorable mentions and the winning Bostonians of the Year, click on the drop-down list at the bottom of this article.

The concept of an indoor market for locally grown food had been talked about in Boston for so long that it felt like an urban legend. Then Liz Morningstar came along.

The former adviser to Deval Patrick was named chief executive of the Boston Public Market in 2013, and while Morningstar didn’t originate the idea, she finally made it a reality.

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“I had doubts,” recalls Greg Watson, who served as commissioner of agriculture in the Patrick administration. “She made that market happen.”

Morningstar did it by sheer force of her good nature. To get construction going in a state building over the Haymarket T station, she first had to cut through a thicket of red tape. Then she had to reassure the pushcart vendors that set up outside the Haymarket station that the two markets could coexist. All the while, Morningstar cajoled donors and raised $9 million for the nonprofit that oversees the market. “Liz can charm the horns off a billy goat,” says her former boss, Deval Patrick.

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Within three months of its July opening, the Boston Public Market had already attracted more than a half million visitors. But beyond being just a popular place to buy artisan cheese, hydroponic lettuce, and fresh fish, the market is a critical step in building a sustainable economic future for local food. It supports 38 vendors sourcing from more than 80 New England farms and is seeding the next generation of entrepreneurs, many of them women.

Read more from the Bostonians of the Year issue:

Select a name from the drop-down list below.

Shirley Leung is a Boston Globe columnist. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.
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