Farmers markets close down after bountiful season

See where there’ll be another market this Sunday – just in time to stock up for your Thanksgiving Dinner – and a fine al fresco dinner at 1:00 p.m. …

Even this late in the season, shoppers find a lots of fresh produce from which to choose, at outer East Portland’s farmers markets.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A combination of extended seasons, changed locations – and good summer weather – boosted the success of outer East Portland farmers markets during the 2012 season.

Markets in Parkrose, Lents, and Montavilla all reported more shoppers, and happy vendors, throughout the summer months.

Parkrose Farmers Market

On this rainy, windblown day, shoppers resolutely brave the weather to shop at the last Parkrose Farmers Market of the season.

The first market to open this season, and it ran through until the last week in October, found its season “outstanding”, according to Parkrose Farmers Market President and Market Manager Steve Voorhees.

“We’ve seen a 30% to 40% increase in customers coming to the market this year,” Voorhees smiled on October 27. “We think it’s because of the increased visibility of our new location.”

The market was originally held in the west parking lot at Parkrose High School. “But, moving it east, to the parking lot near NE 122nd Avenue, gave us great visibility – and because of this, we attracted many new customers,” Voorhees added.

Parkrose farmers market’s Steve Voorhees – he’s also the Market Manager — with his wife Joy and daughter (Bronco grad) Molly wraps up another good season.

During the season, the market averaged about 25 vendors each Saturday. “We tapered off a little near the end of the season, when the crops come to the end of their seasons.”

This year Parkrose Market saw a cumulative total of 15 different farmers coming to the market at different times. “That gave us a lot of variety,” Voorhees noted. “For example, at one time, we had nine berry vendors here, and they all sold out!”

The variety of fruits and vegetables did attract customers, he said. “Typically, we’ve had between 1,000 and 1,500 shoppers every week – except for the very few rainy days.”

What keeps the market going year after year, Voorhees said, is community support. “We started this market to be a ‘community builder’ for Parkrose-area communities, and it’s worked. We hear positive comments from people every week.”

Parkrose Heights Neighborhood Association Chair Jim Murphy prepares to serve another cup of coffee at their booth, cosponsored by the Parkrose Neighborhood Association.

Community connections have always been part of the Parkrose Market. Parkrose Heights Neighborhood Association Chair Jim Murphy remarked that the coffee stand they share with the Parkrose Neighborhood Association helps both organizations’ outreach , and helps them raise money.

“We’ve used the funds mainly to support activities in the neighborhoods such as movies, and National Night Out,” Murphy said. We’d like be able to help youth organizations and other civic groups, if we had more money – which is why we have volunteers here every week.”

As the market wrapped up the season, Voorhees thanked their regular volunteer squads from Parkrose sports teams. “The Parkrose Baseball Team, Parkrose Water Polo, and people from the Parkrose Educational Foundation were all here almost every Saturday, helping us a with set-up and take-down. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

If you’re interested in becoming a vendor, or learning more about the Parkrose Farmers Market during their “fallow season”, see their website: CLICK HERE.

Lents International Farmers Market

Moments before their last regular day of the season, visitors are ready to shop at the Lents International Farmers Market.

The corner of SE 92nd Avenue at SE Foster Road looks different now, since the building that once was west of the Lents International Farmers Market was razed – making this unique market even more of a familiar and welcome sight to many folks throughout the year.

“This season has been great!” exclaimed Market Manager Sarah Brodrick.

Yova Vu, of Blooming Goodies, spends a moment with Market Manager Sarah Brodrick – who is dressed up in a dragon costume, celebrating Halloween weekend.

“Actually, it completely exceeded our expectations and hopes. It’s been a really great market,” she repeated, as their October 28th market opened for the day.

It’s governing committee had set goals for increasing the number of weekly visitors, Brodrick said. “Last year, our average weekly crowd-count was about 437 customers. We wanted to see an average of the least 600 per market this season.”

But, the actual average this year was almost double their expectations, Brodrick said – at 940 visitors per market. “Yes, that’s almost double the number of shoppers from last year.”

Volunteer Cooper Elliott helps out at the market’s Community Table.

What contributed to this jump in attendance?

“We redoubled our outreach efforts, and really talked up the market,” Brodrick replied. “And, we asked immigrant vendors to do outreach in their communities.”

Typically, shoppers found between 15 and 20 vendors ready to serve them, depending on the season, she said. “A good sign is that we had many returning vendors from last year.”

Matt Belding, from Bigfoot Bread Company, sells a fresh loaf to shopper Janet Winner.

Their new hours – from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. may have also helped increase traffic at their outdoor food store.

“We intend to be back next year,” Brodrick said. “Watch the website for dates and also for opportunities to volunteer.”

To stay in touch with the Lents International Farmers Market, see their website: CLICK HERE.

Montavilla Farmers Market

Even a heavy rainstorm didn’t keep shoppers from browsing vegetables at the last regular Sunday session of the Montavilla Farmers Market.

Even though the Montavilla Farmers Market’s regular Sunday sessions ended on October 28, this market will continue with special “stock-up” events throughout the winter months – including a Holiday Market on November 18.

“Today, we’re wrapping up our sixth season, said Montavilla Farmers Market Manager Gretchan Jackson, ducking under a canopy to escape the rain.

Montavilla Farmers Market Manager Gretchan Jackson watches, as shoppers come to buy – even in the rain.

“As you can see, we’re celebrating Halloween with a kids’ parade and with awards for best costuming,” Jackson said.

Their season could be expressed in one word: “Fantastic!” she grinned. “We’ve had great turnouts of both vendors and customers every week. Everyone continues to be really pleased with the market.”

The attendance has held steady at about 1,400 per Sunday, Jackson commented. And, visitors are able to shop from 35 to 40 vendors each week, depending on the season.

Celebrating early, these kids come dressed for Halloween – hoping to win a prize.

In addition to shopping, visitors are also shopping, she said. “Our vendors say they’re very happy. We have a lot of dedicated farms and processors. It’s a real testament to this market they’ve grown to love us, while developing a relationship with our neighbors.”

The best parts about being associated with the market, Jackson told us, “is the continuity aspect of it all. It’s also a pleasure to be here every Sunday, and discovering what products are seasonal, and which are local. People continually come up to me and tell me they are so thankful that we are here. It makes it all feel so right.”

The manager thanked her pool of about 40 volunteers – including board members. “Without the help and support of these dedicated people, there would not be a market here.”

At the last weekly Montavilla Farmers Market day, shoppers buy fall produce at the Simplicity Gardens stand.

Special “Holiday Market” and Dinner November 18
They’re holding a special “Holiday Stock-up Market” this Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

“We’re offering raised, grown, and created foods, ‘greens in season’ from area farmers – brought in fresh from their fields and gardens – all just right for your Thanksgiving table,” Jackson said.

LOOK: Mike Eels with Country Cat and Daniel Miller of Adalu Stew will demonstrate how to make Squash soup, Celery root and sweet potato gratin & Cranberry Sauce, Braised Brussels sprouts, Perfect Country Gravy and Deep Fried Turkey. Be there at 1:00 p.m. and buy plates for just $5 each; proceeds supporting their “Everybody Eats” program.

Their open-air market is located in the 7600 Block of SE Stark St., just west of the Academy Theater, and across the street from Mr. Plywood. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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