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In Milan a new urban farmer’s market is also a laboratory for sustainability and food culture

Over 15,000 square meters, of which 1,200 are covered, 2,000 local products to taste or buy, 1,000 people involved in the related industries and 150 young people directly employed.

These are the impressive numbers of “Mercato Metropolitano ” in Milan (“Metropolitan Market”), inaugurated in the former railway warehouses of Porta Genova, one of the most lively and dynamic areas of the city.

The ambitious concept was devised by Ambrogio De Ponti, President of UNAPROA (a group of 125 organizations of the fruit and vegetable, citrus fruit, and nuts producers) and Andrea Rasca, entrepreneur of the food and wine sector, with a sustainable purchasing model based on a short supply chain, with food coming directly from a network of small producers.

“It is an innovative space for eating, going shopping and learning, because we will make so much room for workshops, initiatives and courses, also for children,” explained Rasca, former partner of Oscar Farinetti, Eataly’s founder.

“The food has been selected according to five criteria: good, natural, handmade, local and, if possible, organic. We are a replicable aggregation model that can help small companies sell, even abroad. Our idea is to open 200 stores worldwide in the next five years: the first one will be in Tokyo in autumn, then in London, New York and Dubai. Our dream and goal for the future is to export the Market to Africa as well, involving local communities and farmers.”

Mercato is an outstanding example of industrial archeology returned to Milanese citizens: the external area is characterized by a food truck, large wooden tables, graffiti and the atmosphere of a Northern European metropolis.

In addition to stalls selling fruit, vegetables and herbs, the Farmer’s Market of the Navigli (open until midnight, and at the weekend until 2 am) hosts several workshops: among others, you can find the mill of Molino Quaglia and fresh pasta by Sartoria della Pasta, chicken by Antica Trattoria del Gallo, grilled meat by Joe Cipolla and fried fish by Zio Pesce, wine by Enoteca Palazzo Mentone and beer by Prato Rosso, and the coffee shop of Taglio and La Marzocco.

There is also the cocktail bar branded Rita (the parent company of the famous sign of mixed drinks is a few hundred meters away) and an outdoor cinema with over 500 seats. The entire graphic design has been curated by illustrator Gianluca Biscalchin.

Several activities are scheduled: the gardens will host “around the Earth,” a journey in stages to learn all the secrets for the cultivation of a vegetable garden, from sowing seeds, to the use of plants.

In the show cooking area, chefs, pastry chefs and nutrition experts will alternate with cooking classes and thematic events.

Every first week of the month, Taglio and TAF Coffee from Athens will present a journey to discover the Market’s coffees: from House Blend especially made for the market, to Warka from Ethiopia. The Mercato Metropolitano Market will remain open throughout the next six months, but the potential (and the intentions of the creators) give the impression that the project can continue even after Expo Milano 2015’s closure.


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