Farm to Table by Sea
The World’s Best Floating Markets
By the experts at FarmBoat.org
The rhythm of a restless sea coaxes a new bounty each season from a misty coast. Vessels laden with local harvests host eager patrons who learn of nature’s delectable offerings. Water connects all life. For centuries, boats hewn of wood carry to market the sustenance of mankind and the stories of the serene and tempestuous sea.
Boats have been used for thousands of years throughout the world to efficiently deliver goods from farm to market. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans commonly traded farm goods on the Mediterranean. The cities of Europe flourished where agricultural products could easily be moved from farm to market along canals and rivers by boat.
Before the advent of trucks, refrigerated warehouses and grocery stores, people frequently greeted their food providers at the dock to negotiate on their daily sustenance. Dockside market activity was once a common sight at almost any port in the world. Every waterfront community had a public wharf where everything happened. In the early days, there were no roads, bridges or phones so this wooden platform was the center of activity for most small towns.
Floating markets still flourish around the world. These are some of the most famous (compiled by South Florida Opulence):
FarmBoat on Puget Sound in Washington
When the glaciers of the last Ice Age receded some 20,000 years ago, they left an indelible pattern of islands and waterways now called Puget Sound. Centuries before European settlers arrived, native inhabitants cultivated and foraged roots, berries, greens and game from shore and seaweed, fish, mollusks and mammals from the sea. Trading goods by canoe was common practice between the regional tribes. Today, FarmBoat Floating Market (www.FarmBoat.org) is a thematic maritime event that captures the essence of a traditional old-world, open-air market similar to what might have been seen in small seaports around the world a century ago.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi, Thailand
Featuring many small boats laden with colorful fruits, vegetables and Thai cuisine, this floating market in central Thailand is a major tourist attraction demonstrating the old traditional way of vending fresh produce – such as Malacca grape, Chinese grapefruit, mangoes, bananas, star fruit and coconut.
Venice Floating Fruit and Veggie Barge Market in Italy
Campo San Barnaba is a square in northern Italy where you’ll find a famous barge called Barca anchored near Ponte dei Pugni. The neighborhood’s church, the San Barnaba – which dates back to 421 – has been in movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Rialto Market has over 1,000 years of history. It overlooks the Grand Canal and is situated under the monumental arches of palaces that were designed by the most influential architects of history.
L’Isle sur la Sorgue Floating Market in France
Charming flat-bottomed boats known as “Nego-Chin boats” were once used for fishing, but today they are used in a floating market along the L’Isle sur la Sorgue (known as the Venice of Provence) to carry local products from Provence, including fresh fruits and vegetables, olives and wine.
Bloemenmarkt, the Floating Flower Market Amsterdam
Vendors first started selling blooms on this historic floating flower market known as Bloemenmarkt in 1862. Today, it is the most well-known flower market of Holland. Whether your favorite flowers are traditional Dutch tulips, geraniums or indoor cypresses and plants, you’ll find it here on the Singel Canal. Visit the floating flower market on weekdays from 9 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. and on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.
Floating Market in Willemstad, Curacao
Arrive early enough and you’ll see the vendors waking up in their boats, which is where they live. The vendors are from Venezuela, which is 40 miles away but has an entirely different climate than Curacao, which is arid to the point of resembling a desert. This is a tradition that has been active in Curacao for decades – working at Floating Market is a family business, with fathers passing it on to their sons.