Portland Farmers Market returns to the PSU campus

So long, dreary winter. Spring is peering around the corner and warmer weather is on the way, which means it is time to get ready for the plethora of outdoor activities Portlanders like to partake in.

With all the hiking, biking and keeping things weird, it’s easy to forget about the organic and local foods and all of the other bonuses that go with the Portland Farmers Market. After months away, the Portland Farmers Market returns to the Portland State campus on March 15 and will run every Saturday through Dec. 20.

“We are lucky at PSU to have such an elaborate farmers market within our reach. I go all the time with my family and friends. It’s one of the fun things we do,” said Christen Hall, a junior at PSU studying English.

Hall lives near the campus and does her weekly vegetable shopping at the market.

“With living alone, I am able to buy just enough for me, and it is great that the fruits and vegetables are changing throughout the season,” Hall said.

“It is entertainment and it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are bouquets of dahlias for five dollars to brighten up your living room. It is nice to get out and see what’s going on, listen to some live music,” Hall said.

The market is host to a variety of musicians. This year’s ballot of artists include American roots musician James Clem, the Ray Mann Band, singer-songwriter Robert Richter, and The Stomptowners, a traditional Irish group.

As well as a host of vendors at the market every week, visitors can count on a variety of fresh produce for sale.

Lyle Stanley is the owner of the Gee Creek Farm Community in Ridgefield, Wash., which has had a booth at the PSU Saturday market for 11 years. Gee Creek Farm is a teaching farm that aims to run as self-sufficiently as possible. They also run an organic grain mill, create herbal tinctures and prepare vegan foods.

“We are passionate and committed to what we do,” Stanley said.

Gee Creek Farm has created an affordable organic food buying club, which entitles members to a share of the year’s harvest. Weekly pick-ups and farm visits give members a connection to their food and how it came to fruition.

“At the lowest cost available, we hope people will make use of it. It is our way to give back to the community and to eat well,” Stanley said.

As well as supporting regional agriculture, attendees are able to speak with those who grow the product and learn about the benefits of eating fresh, nutritious foods.

“It’s inspiring. They love to talk about any questions you have with something unusual, how to cook it and how they like to prepare it. Farmers are super interested in engaging with their customers,” said Mona Johnson, communications director for the Portland Farmers Market.

The farmers market offers more than shopping; it is also an atmosphere with something for everyone. There are programs and special events designed to engage and satisfy market shoppers of all ages.

When the market first started in 1992, its original location was in a parking lot at Albers Mill before moving to the Park Blocks at the PSU campus. In 1997, a second market was added on Wednesdays.

“What sets this market apart is the beautiful location, surrounded by all those great buildings with a lot of history. It just has a kind of buzz and excitement being there, a central hub for the city,” Johnson said.

PSU’s Saturday market also offers special events. Beginning in June, the market will present Chef in the Market, where local chefs use local seasonal produce to create simple,
delectable dishes.

“We also have the recipes for people to take with them so they can try to recreate it at home,” Johnson said.

Another event is Kids Cook in the Market, which runs June through August. Children ages 7–11 have a chance to become a “Top Chef” by enrolling in culinary classes taught by instructors and students of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland. Participants learn about the seasonality of food, meet local farmers and gain first-hand experience preparing ingredients purchased fresh at the market.

“[It is] very educational and hands on. They make the dish themselves and eat it,” Johnson said. “It is a really nice way to be involved with the market outside.”

More information about the Portland Farmers Market and their vendors can be found at portlandfarmersmarket.org