Market forces Attendees explore the Portland Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday at Portland State.

Foundation for human dignity

The mission of the Portland Farmers Market

Break out those reusable bags and get some fresh air while doing your grocery shopping. Vendors from all around the state of Oregon open shop on Portland State’s campus for the Portland Farmers Market, drawing 12,000–16,000 shoppers each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The mission of the Portland Farmers Market

Break out those reusable bags and get some fresh air while doing your grocery shopping. Vendors from all around the state of Oregon open shop on Portland State’s campus for the Portland Farmers Market, drawing 12,000–16,000 shoppers each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Market forces Attendees explore the Portland Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday at Portland State.
Drew Martig / Vanguard Staff
Market forces Attendees explore the Portland Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday at Portland State.

Established in 1992 by Craig Mosbaek, Ted Snider and Richard Hagen, the market’s goal was to supply fresh produce, meat and prepared goods to the Portland community. Originally held in a parking lot in Albers Mill with only 13 vendors, by 1996 the market had grown so much that it was moved to the South Park Blocks on the PSU campus.

PFM is a nonprofit group that oversees eight weekly markets throughout the Portland area.The organization’s mission still centers on creating a market that supplies local food products, but currently the organization also envisions a larger sense of community within the urban Portland area. This includes the values of nourishment, sustainability, positive relationships with the community, excellence in the market, organizational integrity and authenticity.

“Food is the heart and soul of our lives. Access to fresh nutritious food is a foundation for human dignity,” PFM’s mission statement says.

Drew Martig / Vanguard Staff

While vendors do have to pay a fee to set up a stall every Saturday, the estimated income from all vendors estimates a total of $6 million each year. The PSU market boasts about 160 artisan food and produce vendors selling items ranging from fresh farm eggs to baked goods and lunch food, and that number is growing. Throughout its March to December season, about 200 vendors set up shop, though not at the same time. Each year sees the inclusion of many new vendors, such as this year’s addition, local pizza shop Hot Lips Pizza.

To make the markets accessible to all, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Oregon Trail EBT cards are accepted by vendors at all eight market locations. In order to get more farm-produced products to lower income consumers, the market partnered with community leaders and volunteers to create the Fresh Exchange. SNAP shoppers are matched dollar-for-dollar for purchases at the King, Buckman and Northwest Portland markets. This program was created with the hope that SNAP beneficiaries can become frequent shoppers at the markets and enjoy fresh and local foods.

Drew Martig / Vanguard Staff

“Not only is food from the farmers market the freshest and healthiest you can find, every dollar spent at the market goes directly to the farmer or producer who grew, raised or prepared it, which helps keep money in our local economy,” PFM Communications Manager Mona Johnson said.

“Shopping at the market helps ensure our region’s farmers and producers are successful, which creates jobs, supports small businesses, preserves farmland and promotes sustainability and crop diversity,” Johnson said. “Farmer’s markets allow you to get to know the face behind your food and offer an opportunity for community building. Plus it’s a fun and sensory experience. There is great food, fresh air, friends and families enjoying themselves, musical entertainment and everywhere you look there is something fresh and beautiful to behold, smell, touch and taste,” she added.

Entertainment is also abundant during the day. Each week there are at least two performers at the market. Local musicians range from music students to folk bands such as Bear Flag, which will perform on June 2.

From June through September,the market also offers its Chef in the Market Program, where local chefs hold cooking demos and give out samples. First up on the program list will be an appearance from Chef Kathryn Yeomans of The Farmers Feast on June 2. Starting June 16, children aged seven to 11 can also get the chance to learn to cook throughout the summer. Here they can learn about seasonal foods, meet local farmers that set up shop throughout the market and gain experience in preparing fresh ingredients to make a delicious meal.

Students do not have to be customers to get involved. PFM offers volunteer positions that deal with tasks ranging from working at the market’s information booth to helping out with festival activities. No matter how long a period of time a student can commit, whether for just an hour or for all day, a position can be arranged. “We love our volunteers and simply could not do what we do without them,” Johnson said.

Those interested in doing volunteer work are asked to contact Volunteer Coordinator Amber Holland at [email protected]