Outdoor market in Montavilla starts successful second season

See why this farmer’s market on SE Stark St. packs ’em in,
even with an earlier start …

Manager at the Montavilla Farmers Market, Gretchan Jackson takes a break and welcomes us to their market, along with volunteer coordinator Tonya Stark and volunteer Monica Rotzen.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Before they opened for business last year, neighbors who organized the Montavilla Farmers Market wondered if anyone would stop and shop at their lot, located across the street from the landmark Mr. Plywood store.

Instead of counting a couple hundred visitors, this market has been attracting shoppers by the thousands, said Gretchan Jackson the market’s manager. “We’ve counted around 2,000 shoppers at each market; we have really consistent crowds all day long. We opened on June 7 and had about 1,900 visitors during our four hours of market.”

At the market, Nicolette Purcell and Carol Kiel buy their fresh vegetables mere blocks from where they live.

Weather delays crops, not shoppers
There are fewer fresh fruit and vegetable vendors at the start of the season, commented Jackson. “Our farmers tell us the cool weather is delaying their crops about two to three weeks. While we’re featuring 19 vendors today, that number will grow to around 30 at the height of growing season.”

On this day, it looked like market vendors were having brisk sales as neighbors came by to shop.

After tasting the giant strawberry, Ruby Anderson says she found it a bit tart for her taste. She came with her aunt – they live near Creston Park.

Nicolette Purcell liked the looks of produce at one stand in particular. “I live close by in the South Tabor neighborhood.”I come here because I want to support local farmers, and I get the very best produce in town, week after week.”

Another shopper, Carol Kiel, told us she lives just blocks away. “I love the fact I can get fresh produce straight from hands of those who grew it, and support them directly.”

‘Buns on the Run’ server Jessica Curtin serves up a freshly-made sausage to Jeanine Diamond. The savory scent was so inviting, we dined on a chicken sausage made with garlic and Portobello mushrooms – it was delicious.

Community gathering place
In addition to the market’s providing them with reasonably-priced fresh food, all of the shoppers with whom we spoke said the secondary reason for their weekly visits to the market was to mingle with their neighbors.

“I’m really pleased to see our market has become a real community space,” Jackson agreed. “It provides a place for neighbors to come, shop, enjoy live music, and have conversations about issues great and small.”

A new vendor this year, Clint Bissell at “Liquid Sunshine” squeezes up a fresh strawberry lemonade.

Where and when
Montavilla Farmer’s Market

  • Where: 7600 block of SE Stark Street across from “Mr. Plywood”
  • When: Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except July 6, until October 5

To learn more, CLICK HERE to visit their website and get on their e-mail newsletter list.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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