The autumn season was in full effect last Saturday as Portland State of Mind—the 10-day festival designed to celebrated university knowledge and culture—teamed up with the weekly Portland Farmers Market for PSU Day.
Every week, anywhere from 80 to 130 farmers and ranchers flock to the South Park Blocks with produce, seasonal treats and food, all produced in Oregon and southwest Washington.
Trudy Toliver, executive director of the Portland Farmers Market, discussed the regulations that keep the market locally sourced.
“In general, growers [and] ranchers must come from Oregon or southwest Washington and raise all of the product they bring,” Toliver said. “Food artisans must source most of their food ingredients locally, as must the hot food vendors. Bakeries and others must be locally owned.”
Toliver said the vendors are very successful at the markets. The market is known for incubating small businesses that eventually open restaurants, sell at grocery stores and to chefs or grow well beyond the Northwest.
Ariana Grasgreen, a vendor with Persephone Farm, has been working at the farm for a few years, as well as vending at the PSU Farmers Market for just under a year.
“The market is a main source of income, so we always come here hoping to sell everything,” Grasgreen said. “We get a lot of return customers, which is really nice.”
Grasgreen said market sales rapidly increased a few years ago but have been declining since. She added that vendors have attempted to reverse this declining sales trend by looking at comparable price points from natural and organic grocers like Whole Foods Market and other produce stores.
For example, Persephone Farm sells mustard bundles at $3.00 each, whereas Natural Grocers sells them at $3.50.
Like many of the other growers and vendors in the market, Persephone Farm emphasizes sustainable farming practices, such as outdoor growing in place of greenhouses.
The Portland Farmers Market brings in 650,000 shoppers annually to the PSU campus.
The Farmers Market runs year-round. 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturdays (March–October); 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturdays (November–February). Closed December 26th for the holidays.