Montavilla’s first-ever Farmers Market premieres July 22

If you missed it, a look at this story and you’ll see why you must come and check out the newest open-air market in outer East Portland next week

At the new Montavilla Farmers Market, Mary and Frank Culbertson buy veggies Denison Farms Organic Produce from Corvallis.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Six months ago, a dedicated group of volunteers agreed that the Montavilla area needed its own farmers market. On July 22, their dream was successfully realized when crowds of neighbors flooded into the market and sales were brisk.

Volunteers “pull off amazing feat”
“We were told that it takes a year to plan and open a new market,” said co-manager of the brand-new Montavilla Farmers Market, Gretchan Jackson. “We have a dedicated crew; we’ve pulled off an amazing feat getting it ready to open in this short amount of time.”

Jackson said that adding a farmers market is the next evolution for the neighborhood, as Montavilla continues to redevelop itself. “We’re changing for the better. It started with a coffee shop; now we have restaurants, the Academy Theater. We’re hopeful people will support local food.”

Tom Thorson sells fresh greens to area resident Amanda Welker

Meeting a need in central, outer East Portland
Starting a market seemed obvious to Jackson, and her co-manager Elaine Friends. “There isn’t an [East County] farmers market west of Mt. Tabor,” Jackson told us. “If anyone wants to source their fresh food, they have to go into downtown, or to the East County farms. Montavilla is right in between. It will help our area if we can provide fresh, local food right here.”

Neighbors say market is a welcome neighborhood amenity
“I live just a few blocks away, right here in Montavilla,” Dan Kelly told us. “I’m very excited about it. It’s great to be able to walk from my home and get fresh fruits and vegetables. I like to interact with the community here at the market.”

Picking perfect peaches is Dan Kelly offered by Rob Rutledge, Baird Family Orchards in Dayton and Maryhill, WA.

Although Amanda Welker said she lives 20 blocks up SE Stark St., she says the Montavilla Market is the closest to her, and added, “I’m so excited we’ve finally got a farmers market here!”

Debi Houghton said she lived in the area, in Mt. Tabor, specifically, for 17 years. “Montavilla used to be pretty seedy. But look at it now; new businesses keep opening. This market adds even more vitality to the Montavilla neighborhood. It brings people out of their homes, and gives them a place to shop and meet, like a town square.”

Mt. Tabor resident Debi Houghton gets fresh pastries from Jessica Killops of Gabriel’s Bakery

Mary and Frank Culbertson were picking organic vegetables when Mary us, I love it!  I don’t have to go to a store and buy veggies packed in plastic.” Frank added, “We like the idea of getting really fresh food, and supporting our local farms.”

A success by all measures
“It’s going great,” co-manager Franz said enthusiastically. “We’re having a fabulous turnout. The venders are happy their spot and with number of people who have come by. The response from neighbors has been unanimously positive. They stop by the Market’s booth say we’re needed here.”

Jackson added, “We found out that many people are coming from outside the neighborhood. In the first hour, we had about 600 visitors stop by to shop from our 17 vendors.

Montavilla Farmers Market co-managers Elaine Franz and Gretchan Jackson say their opening day attendance indicates that neighbors appreciate having this market in outer SE Portland.

See you on Sundays
Be sure to check out the Montavilla Farmer’s Market for yourself. If you drive west from SE 82nd Ave. of Roses on SE Stark Street, you’ll see it along the south side of the road at SE 77 Avenue‚ right across the street from Mr. Plywood.

“Look for our big sign, when you are driving west on Stark Street,” Jackson reminded us. For more information, check online at

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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