Since the downsizing and subsequent closing of the Portland Greengrocer, and the closure of the old Public Market, one thing that has been sorely lacking east of Marginal Way is a great place to buy fresh veggies. Whole foods and Trader Joe’s do something to fill that gap, but Whole Foods is pricey and Trader Joe’s (while wonderful) doesn’t always have the best produce, and has parking issues. And they’re both down at the bottom of the great big hill.
Fortunately, our friends at Rosemont Market have stepped in to fill the breach.
The Rosemont Produce Company opened on March 5th, and although they’re a bare bones operation, at least to start, they do perfectly what they set out to do: provide fresh fruits and veggies to individuals and businesses on the peninsula at a very reasonable price.
The experience is really very much like visiting the Farmers Market. Produce is set out on long tables in a variety of cardboard boxes and other containers. Baskets are available to help you shop, but you should plan on bringing your own bag to carry things home in. Despite the fact I was visiting at 5 pm, everything on display was fresh and nothing looked pawed over or otherwise unpalatable. Although not all the produce is local (it would be tough to source local bananas, for example) there is a long list of what is available from local vendors on a chalkboard behind the checkout. The space is painted in Rosemont’s familiar gold and red tones, and features a giant retracting door (comprised mainly of windows) that slides open on warmer days.
Because the space is so near the ferry terminal, there are plans afoot to ship produce over to the island communities, and their close proximity to the Maine State Pier will make them an easy stop for any boat-borne visitors who are craving an apple or a banana or perhaps a few strawberries. But the real target market here (beside the restaurant and wholesale customers, for whom this produce depot was originally designed) is locals. The selection is clearly aimed at serious cooks, with a half-dozen varieties of mushrooms, a selection of potato varieties, fresh herbs, beautiful asparagus, leeks, shallots, and fresh Rosemont Bakery bread. What you won’t find is anything to drink (although there is a coffee house next door) or any ingredient of any kind that doesn’t fall in the category of “fresh produce”. (You’ll also need to be prepared to pay in cash, at least for the moment.)
Rosemont Produce Company makes me happy in a way I can’t really articulate. For someone like me, who can’t get to the Wednesday market at Monument Square, and who often has conflicts with the hours of the Saturday market, especially in the summer, having the opportunity to just pop down to Commercial St to pick up what I need for dinner, without battling the crowds at Hannaford or trying to park at Trader Joe’s … well, let’s just say that I’m sure I’ll be giving them a lot of business, one leek or a couple of onions at a time.
Rosemont Produce Market is located at 5 Commerical St, very near the intersection of India and Commercial Streets (also near the Benkay restaurant). It is in the most nondescript building you can possibly imagine, without the familiar Rosemont sign, so just park on the street anywhere between Five County Credit Union and Benkay, head twoard the door-made-of-glass, and rest assured that you’re nearly there. You can visit their website, Like Rosemont Produce or the Rosemont Markets on Facebook, or check out the main Rosemont Bakery page. You can also read about them in the Press Herald, or the Munjoy Hill News.
Distance from the Maine State Pier: two-tenths of a mile (about a three minute walk). You can see the pier from the front door.
Still having trouble? Here’s a map!