Mid-season report: East Portland Farmers Markets

Here’s a look at how our outer East Portland outdoor food markets are faring this summer …

Many farmers markets – like this one in Montavilla – are doing a brisk business, delighting the vendors and the shoppers alike.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From Lents on north to Parkrose, the Mid-County area is served by three longstanding farmers markets. Here’s a look at how they’re doing, so far, this season.

Montavilla Farmers Market

Neighbor J. Valenta says he’s finished his week’s shopping for fresh fruits and berries at the Montavilla Farmers Market.

“This season has been fantastic so far,” grinned Montavilla Farmers Market manager Grechan Jackson. “The customer response is exceptional. And, we’re fortunate to have fantastic vendors.”

One measurement of neighborhood acceptance is how many adults visit the market. “Our crowd counts are up a few hundred per market,” Jackson revealed. “This means were seeing an average of 1,500 people visiting each Sunday. I think we’ve hit our mark. We’re continuing to grow in popularity with the neighborhood, and with the vendors.”

Jamie Sterling with Tabor Bread (established in 2012 at 51st and SE Hawthorne) shows one of the bakery’s rustic loaves to Montavilla Farmers Market Manager Gretchan Jackson.

What shoppers say they like about the Montavilla market, Jackson told East Portland News, “is the diversity of vendors we have for them.

“People also say they enjoy meeting and talking with the farmers who grow the food, first-hand. The market is easy-going enough to allow time for conversations,” Jackson remarked.

As the four-hour market nears closing time, shoppers buy fresh produce at the Frog Meadow Farm stand.

One thing that sets the market apart, she added, is that they still do allow dogs. “The dog owners of this area seem to know how to get along, and have their dog behave in the market.  So we will keep it up as long as the doggies are well-behaved.

“And, so far, cats at the market hasn’t been an issue,” Jackson quipped.

In summary, Jackson said their board and volunteers are pleased at the growing relationships between the vendors and the customers. “And also, that that we continue to grow as being part of the neighborhood. Our market seems to be the right thing at the right time. As long as that’s happening, we will continue to be here.”

Shopping at the Fiddlehead Farms stand is Arlo Cummins and his dad, Michael Cummins, from the Montavilla neighborhood.  Arlo is also featured on our Front Page, enjoying a nectarine!

Montavilla Farmers Market – Through October 29, this market is open Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – rain or shine. It’s located in the 7600 Block of SE Stark Street, just west of the Academy Theater, and across the street from Mr. Plywood. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

Lents International Farmers Market

Shoppers at the Lents International Farmers Market decide on which flower bouquets will grace their supper tables.

This year, the Lents International Farmers Market continues to grow, and to gain community acceptance, said Manager Sarah Broderick on August 18.

“Today’s exactly half-way through out season,” Broderick told East Portland News.

Laura Bouma and Juniper shop with returning vendor Tatyana Puzur, from Happy Moment Farm.

“This year, the market has been going really well,” commented Broderick. “Our customer accounts are up again, this year, by a couple hundred per market.”

Counting adult visitors only, about 1,200 people shop every week, she pointed out.

Offering fish caught by her family, Kris Sampson with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs shows off some her fresh fish to Lents International Farmers Market Manager Sarah Broderick.

“And, we’re glad to see a lot of kids here, because of our “Food Scouts” program that encourages young people to visit every week for special programs, and the opportunity to shop for, and purchase, two dollars-worth of produce, or a live plant.”

As for the comment she most frequently hears, Broderick said: “People tell me, ‘We’re surprised at how much your market has grown!’ This is a good sign.”

More new vendors bring more new customers, Broderick added. “And, getting more customers helps the vendors, and they say that they’re doing very well. So, everyone is feeling pretty pleased.”

Bob Shoemaker and Lindsie Feathers entertain at the Lents International Farmers Market this day.

Their “community table” is a consignment area for very small farmers, and it now has as many as 18 different participants. This adds to the variety of produce available every week, and provides a small income to growers.

Other attractions include having OSU Master Gardeners on hand every week, as well as representatives of the Lents Grocery Buying Club.

An interesting demographic trend that Broderick discovered this year is that while SNAP food assistance customer purchases have remained constant, debit card customers have increased. “This means we’re having more total customers – and more of those with greater incomes – shopping at the market every week. We’re glad to be gaining greater neighborhood acceptance this year.”

More neighbors, from all walks of life, are coming each week to shop at the Lents International Farmers Market.

Lents International Farmers Market – Each Sunday, Portland’s only internationally focused market is open through October 27, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. You’ll find it on the northwest corner of SE 92nd Avenue and SE Foster Road. For more information, see their webpage: CLICK HERE.

Parkrose Farmers Market

Perhaps this particular afternoon wasn’t the best time for us to visit the Parkrose Farmers Market.

Because of their long season, the visit to the Parkrose Farmers Market didn’t come until August 31, six days after the visits to Montavilla and Lents markets.

The market manager wasn’t available, some said, because of the Labor Day Weekend.

“It’s a shame that more people from Parkrose don’t support their local farmers market,” lamented a shopper, who wished not to be identified.

This Saturday, September 7, promises to be one of their biggest market days of the year, held in connection with the “100 Years of Parkrose Education” celebration.

Parkrose Farmers Market – They’re open every Saturday through October 12, 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The market accepts Oregon Trail and debit cards. They’re at Parkrose High School – in the EAST parking lot – at 12003 NE Shaver Street, a half-block west of NE 122nd Avenue. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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