Photographing the Charles Square Winter Farmers Market

SFor my photography assignment, I paid a visit to the Charles Square Winter Farmers Market in Cambridge, Mass. The market is in its first year of operation outside of Cambridge’s Charles Hotel, and is an extension of the hotel’s farmers market that typically runs through November. Several vendors set up shop in the small shed outside the Charles and were selling produce, breads, seafood, and more when I dropped by on a snowy Sunday, Feb. 12.

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The Charles Hotel, which is hosting the winter farmers market for the first time this season.

The market is set up each week this winter on Fridays and Sundays to cater to two different audiences, according to Fran Busa of Lexington. Busa currently helps operate Busa Farms, one of the market’s consistent vendors, and worked to secure the winter market space with the Charles Hotel this year. He says the two days of operation bring in “people that work in the square, especially the students,” on Fridays, and “people who live in the square but don’t work around here and want to get some good stuff too” during the weekend.

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Fran Busa sits at a bar at Henrietta’s Table, a restaurant inside the Charles Hotel, while the market runs outside.

“The owners of the hotel and I had been talking about this for about two years, and it took that long to plan to grow through the winter,” Busa said, explaining how the winter market got its start at the Charles. “We had to make sure that we had enough produce and we put up a couple greenhouses so we could have greens and stuff that would bring people in; a lot of people get bored with potatoes, onion, and squash all year long. So, it took a couple years to get us into having produce to sell and working things out.”

Alongside the tables of Busa Farms produce was seafood from C&C Lobsters and Fish and breads baked by Hi-Rise Bread Company of Cambridge.

Behind the Hi-Rise table, Cambridge resident Hawa Sogoba sliced bread for the local café’s station at the market. While Hi-Rise is one of the market’s staples, it is unique compared to the other vendors.

“Hi-Rise is kind of like an exception to the rule,” Sogoba said. “We’re a café and all the other vendors are farmers that come from out around or of state but we’re local, we’re just a Cambridge café.”

Busa said his first year working the winter market has been surprisingly successful, although Busa Farms’ investment in winter farming likely won’t pay off until next season. But he is enthusiastic about the effort so far.

“It’s a great thing, it’s a great place to be, the hotel is fantastic to work with, very very supportive in everything that we try to do, and we’re very happy to be able to do it,” Busa said.

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A Busa Farms sign hangs above produce in the market shed.

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Jars of sauce line one table inside the market shed.

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The market shed sits on the snowy lower courtyard of the Charles Hotel.

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