The Difference Between Public Markets and Farmers Markets

As movements in food and developing local economies have grown across the country, markets of all kinds have popped up and taken off. In developing a public market in Charlotte, one of the biggest questions have been, “What is the difference between a public market and a farmers’ market?”

The best definition of a public market comes from the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), an organization whose mission is to create and sustain public places that build communities. As they put it, public markets are “markets which operate in or as a public space, feature only locally owned and operated businesses, and which have a broader public purpose, such as neighborhood revitalization or improving community health.”

A relatively wide variety of places may serve this purpose, and indeed, public markets take shape in various ways. Here at the 7th Street Public Market, our mission as a non-profit organization outlines our larger purpose: to celebrate the regional food culture of the Carolinas, to support local farmers, food producers, and farmers markets, to incubate small food-related businesses, and to increase food access in Charlotte. PPS also recognizes the important role public markets play in developing local economies, supporting public health, and developing local food systems, which are central to the Market’s vision for development.

Farmers’ markets may meet most these criteria, too, but for the most part, they feature vendors who are growing or producing their own food. While selling local is a major centerpiece of the Public Market, you’ll also see products beyond food as well as some foods that are not exclusively local. In addition, at Charlotte’s public market, you’ll find restaurants who are making prepared foods at the Market next to retailers who are selling other kinds of foods and ingredients.

The overall vision for the Market is to become the anchor of a larger market district at this end of Uptown as well to serve as an authentic community gathering place that reflects the diversity and creativity of our town. As we grow, we hope you’ll become a part of what we’re doing by coming in to support our businesses and be a part of our community. When it comes down to it, supporting local is about building relationships, and we’re eager to build a relationship with you.