Montavilla’s Farmers Market doubles in size

They’ve just kicked off a fundraising effort; find out why. And, see why the community has made this weekly outer East Portland outdoor market popular for 14 seasons …

Every Sunday, a gravel lot turns into the bustling Montavilla Farmers Market.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

While the Montavilla Farmers Market (MFM) didn’t get the exposure it’s enjoyed in years past from the annual end-of-July Montavilla Street Fair – which this year was cancelled, due to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns – the Market has doubled in physical size, and continues to be a vital part of the neighborhood.

About noon on our recent visit, the Market was alive with activity, as shoppers conscientiously social distanced, and vendors used good sanitary practices.

-2 Speaking with a shopper we found Luke Klimaszewski of Lil’ Starts Urban Farm and Plant Nursery.

“We’ve double the physical size of the lot, here, during the pandemic,” pointed out MFM Board Member Kimberly Davis. Their across-the-street landmark neighbor on SE Stark Street, Mr. Plywood, donated $3,000 to help kick-start the Market’s season, she said.

“Our landlord gave us access to the adjacent lot, previously the site of Beet’s Auto, so that we could expand the physical size of the Market, and ‘socially distance’ our vendors,” Davis explained. “As a result, we did not have to reduce or limit the number of farmers and vendors at our Market; so the ability to expand has made all the difference.”

It looks crowded, but folks maintain social distancing while they shop.

Davis recalled the COVID-19 operating protocols they put in place when the Market opened for the season on May 3. CLICK HERE to read about MFM’s opening day.

“We have a steady base of vendors each week, and a couple ‘pop-up vendors’ – about 45 vendors each week – offering a wide selection of fresh produce, fish, and meat, as well as local breads and bagels, cheese, hummus, nut butters, games, hot sauce, honey, a coffee roaster, and prepared food too,” enumerated Davis.

“Our crowd counts are slightly down year-over-year, but that is partially because we’ve asked the community to send only one shopper per household, when possible,” remarked Davis. “But, the important number to us this year, is that our vendor revenue is up year-over-year.

“And, our SNAP and ‘Double-up Food Bucks’ program usage is up dramatically year-over-year, as well; people are appreciating the open-air shopping option for their weekly essentials,” Davis pointed out.

Again this year, Gopal Thomas and Vyasa Thomas of Simplicity Gardens bring a bounty of vegetables to the market.

Kicks off Fall Fundraiser
“On September 6, we kicked off our Fall 2020 Fundraising effort,” Davis told East Portland News.

You can donate via Venmo, PayPal, or credit card. Even easier, you can text “MFM” to 202-858-1233; those who donate $50 or more will receive a free tote bag.

“With support from the community during this pandemic, we will continue to fight food insecurity, and provide our diverse community with access to high quality, local, healthy food, and support this thriving ecosystem of vendors and neighbors – this is a big part of our mission,” said Davis.

“It has taken the efforts of our staff, board members, farmers, vendors, and volunteers to ensure that we’ve continued to provide these essential goods in a safe and efficient way,” observed Davis. “The Market continues to feel vibrant and a critical piece of the neighborhood in these very unusual times.”

The Montavilla Farmers Market is open every Sunday throughout the end of October, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. It’s located on the gravel lot in the 7700 block of SE Stark Street, across from Mr. Plywood. Please CLICK HERE to see their “COVID-19 market rules”, and learn which vendors will be at the market this week.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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