Lents market changes management, location

See where the Lents International Farmers Market is now, and who’s managing its operations every week …

Looking for the Lents International Farmers Market? It’s moved west, to this lot on SE Foster Road, just past 91st Avenue.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The 2006 “pilot season” for Lents International Farmers Market was successful enough to warrant continuing and hosting a full market season the following year – and has continued the following seasons.

This Lents neighborhood market has been supported Zenger Farm up until this year, when its management was turned over to the Portland Farmers Market organization, which runs seven farmers markets in the greater metropolitan area.

On opening day, many farm vendors are nearly sold out of their produce by noon.

“This transition will allow us to concentrate our time and resources on leadership in sustainable food systems, environmental stewardship, community development, and access to good food for all,” explained Zenger Farm Executive Director Mike Wenrick about the change.

On opening day, June 5, those looking for the market at the place where it’s been for the past eight seasons – on the corner of SE 92nd Avenue and Foster Road – saw only an empty field.

But, just a block and a half to the west, the market was indeed open and operating – along SE Foster Road, in an open area owned by the Portland Development Commission – just east of the building that once housed the now-shuttered Assurity Northwest insurance firm.

That lively carrot is actually Portland Farmers Market Executive Director Trudy Toliver in disguise, helping new Lents International Farmers Market Manager Amber Holland on the opening day of the season.

“With the development happening in Lents Town Center, we needed to find a new location for the market this year,” said Market Manager Amber Holland.

“So, this’ll be our home for one year,” Holland told East Portland News. “Then, we will be looking for a permanent home, perhaps somewhere in the development area. We are definitely looking with the developers to get this market integrated into a development, so we have a stable and secure space.”

Although new to Lents, Holland said this is her 10th season managing farmers markets for the Portland Farmers Market organization, and she has worked with all of their seven managed-market locations.

“We have no other markets this far east,” Holland observed. “We are learning about the neighborhood and about the community.  Our eyes are open, we’re listening to the community, and we are definitely excited to be here.”

A new vendor this year is Genevieve Flanagan of Urban Acre Homestead farm, a hyper-local produce grower.

The market started the season with 16 vendors. The goal of providing fresh culturally-relevant produce and foods to the diverse Lents community continues, Holland pointed out. It also offers farm-direct sales opportunities for immigrants, emerging farmers, and new business owners. In addition to standard market produce, the market features a variety of unique fresh produce from Hmong, Latino, and Russian farmers.

“All but a couple of our vendors are returning. Starting soon, we’ll have a vendor offering meats and dairy protein products – something that this community has said they’ve wanted for a long time,” Holland mentioned.

At their stand, Zenger Farm Manager Bryan Allen and intern Llew Whipps vend produce to the market’s former manager “now, just a customer”, Sarah Broderick.

“Zenger Farm, vendors and shoppers have invested a lot into the vibrant Lents International Farmers Market,” said Trudy Toliver, Executive Director of Portland Farmers Market – who was dressed in a colorful carrot costume. “We are honored to have been asked to manage its growth.”

Lents International Farmers Market
9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every Sunday through October
SE Foster Road, west of SE 91st Avenue (near 5843 SE 92nd Avenue)
See their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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