Fresh and local produce, cheese available through the end of February
After a grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 7 that drew more than 2,000 shoppers, the first-ever Portland Farmers’ Market winter outlet appears likely to enjoy a successful debut season.
The winter market—held at Shemanski Park, just five blocks north of the regular-season PSU market, on the park blocks between Southwest Main and Salmon Streets—is scheduled to run for eight consecutive Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market’s final day will be Feb. 25, leaving a three-week gap before the PSU market starts up again on March 17.
The winter market hosts 53 booths, although several vendors—such as the larger farms, or hot-food vendors like Tastebud, which serves salads and wood-fired bagels and pizzas occupy more than one booth.
“We have a full house, and had more applications to the market than we could accommodate,” said Jaret Foster, the senior market manager for PFM.
The result is a well-balanced market, offering a variety of fruits and vegetables, artisan cow, sheep and goat cheeses, fresh-baked bread and pastries, hot and healthy food cart fare, fresh meats (ranging from yak to turkey to premium charcuterie), wild seafood, duck and chicken eggs, nuts and wild mushrooms.
Vendors for the winter market were culled from last year’s PFM participants. Some will be familiar to frequent PSU market-goers—Springwater Farm’s mushrooms, Salvador Molly’s tamales and Pesto Outside the Box are all here—and some are lower-profile operations taking the opportunity to expand their customer base.
Nancy Chandler of Alsea Acre specialty cheeses, for example, sells feta and fromage blanc through the cheese maker elected to duck out of the PSU market a few years ago, citing competition from the other, perhaps better-known cheese vendors. Chandler has since participated in PFM’s smaller markets, and said she’s excited to vend at the Winter Market.
According to Foster, who joined PFM in 2005, vendors and shoppers alike have been asking about a winter market since he began organizing farmers’ markets in Portland. 2012 was the year to launch, Foster said, because PFM has expanded in the past few years and finally had the staff to tackle a more year-round operation. Foster noted, “as growers have been practicing season extension techniques, there were more products available in the off season.”
Those season extension techniques—like row covers and greenhouses—ensured that the produce on offer was far more exciting than bushel after bushel of kale. Leeks, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, chard, chickweed, spinach and, of course, kale were all plentiful on opening day. Vendors also sold several varieties of fresh herbs, winter squash, onions and potatoes.
As is typical with PFM markets, food stamps, credit and debit cards can be used to purchase wooden tokens at the information booth. Those token are accepted by all PFM markets, and have no expiration date. Cash change is offered for the $5 credit and debit card tokens; no change is given for the $1 food stamp tokens, which cannot be used to purchase hot or ready-to-eat foods, per the food-stamp program regulations.
Despite the market’s expected success, future expansion is unlikely, according to Foster, due to the limitations imposed by the tiny Shemanski Park, which is only one block in size.
In an effort to promote shopping at the winter market, PFM is circulating $1 coupons throughout downtown Portland businesses, as well as offering a “frequent shopper” gift basket raffle for anyone who shops at the winter market for three out of four weekends in either January or February.
PFM runs six other farmers’ markets, though many independently organized markets operate in the Portland Metro area. Other winter markets in or near Portland include the People’s Farmers’ Market (outside of the People’s Coop on Southeast 21st Avenue), the Lloyd Farmers’ Market, the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market, the Oregon City Winter Farmers’ Market, the Sunnyside Grange Farmers’ and Artists’ Market and the Troutdale Open Air Market.