the lobby’s work in progress…

In the early days of Leftbank’s creation, while its vision and design were still largely shapes in the fog, an architectural idea emerged in the lobby. Without question, the textures, artifacts and epic spaces of the building inspired a thousand ideas at that time… but this one I held particularly dear. I’m truly excited to say Leftbank has at long last commissioned me to execute it. Passing though the lobby over the next few weeks you’ll see the process unfold – don’t hesitate to say hi.

In the meantime, here are a few shots from the effort:

what’s in a name?

Buried in the 75 messages waiting in my email inbox yesterday morning, I unearthed this bit of news about large grocery retailers staging lookalike farmers markets in select locations, regardless of the actual source of the produce being sold. It seems supermarkets have figured out that freshness, taste and traceability of food from farm to table matter to people. It also seems that supermarkets are looking to take advantage of the hard work farmers, market managers and community supporters have invested in building the modern local food movement over the past half century.

On the one hand, this development indicates the conversation about food security and sustainability is really going somewhere if the industrial food system is taking notice and capitalizing on the integrity of the term farmers market. On the other hand, this makes a whole lot of us who work in the world of local food and sustainable agriculture stinkin’ mad. Farmers markets are just that – places of commerce where farmers sell directly to the produce loving public, not big grocery store chains with big marketing budgets. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

less is more

When does less equal more? When you’re talking about garbage, for one. At Portland Farmers Market, we are serious about sustainability and the fact that less waste generated at our markets means more resources for the generations to come. This year, with generous support from the City of Portland, we launched our EverGreen initiative, a comprehensive waste reduction plan designed to address this crucial issue. Read more here about how we are doing so far.

See you at the market!

(Photo courtesy of PFM volunteer and food blogger Allison Jones)

August abundance

We are rolling through the Portland Farmers Market high season with hardly a breath between markets. The harvest is here in splendid abundance, the farmers are tired from long days (and nights) of labor, and Portlanders are awash in the edible rewards of backyard gardens and local farmers’ markets. Everyone, from the bees to the squirrels, is hard at work with an eye towards the cooler, darker days of fall.

Before the rains arrive though, we’d like to spend a little more time reveling in the peppers, melons, tomatoes, stone fruit and squashes of the full summer sun. An easy way to do that is by enjoying a humble workhorse of the vegetable world: zucchini. By virtue of its easygoing nature and prolific production, zukes are omnipresent this time of year and under appreciated by (almost) all the food lovers we encounter. One exception to the zucchini naysayers crowd is PFM volunteer Nicolette Smith. She has lately been singing the praises of zucchini on our blog. Check out what she has to say and see if you aren’t newly converted!

See you at the market!

one size does not fit all

In the coming year, we will see big changes in the way food reaches our plates. These changes will be provoked by Senate Bill 510 – a.k.a. the FDA Food Modernization Act – which is intended to safeguard our food supply and provide a safety net for eaters as our food distribution system grows ever larger. The only trouble is SB 510 places a farmer working a ten acre plot in Woodburn, Oregon in the same category as multinational farm conglomerates. Portland Farmers Market knows this is not good news for the family farmers, ranchers, and small business owners who labor to provide our community with safe, quality food. That’s why we encourage you to head over to this post on our blog to learn more about the bill and its implications for sustainable food production. We need to speak up for those in the fields and make sure the voice of local food is heard in the halls of Congress – because we all have a stake in this particular food fight.

See you at the market!

the flavors of inspiration

If you have lived in or visited Portland for more than twenty-four hours, you know it’s a serious food town. Beyond “local, seasonal, sustainable” restaurants and backyard gardens aplenty, this is a town that knows what to look for in a good olive oil, how to tell sylvanberries from blackberries, and the pleasure to be had in whipping up an impromptu feast from the farmer’s market.

It’s the celebration of ingredient-driven cooking with the freshest produce that inspires much of the culinary programming at Portland Farmers Market. When it’s warranted, we do our best to nudge customers in the direction of improvisational cooking, rather than relying heavily on recipes or exotic ingredients. Chef in the Market demonstrations at the flagship PSU market, Taste the Place recipe samplings at neighborhood markets, and Kids Cook at the Market classes all pay homage to the joy of creating simple, delectable dishes from seasonal bounty.

We have many terrific partners in our quest to nurture edible creativity. One such gem is Katherine Deumling, proprietor of the home-based cooking school Cook With What You Have. Katherine is as passionate as we are about spontaneity in the kitchen and we invite you to see for yourself when Katherine joins us at the Buckman Market on July 22nd from 4:30-6:00pm to provide ideas for quick dinners and picnic foods. The cooking demonstration is in support of our Fresh Exchange market money match program for SNAP recipients.

If you can’t meet us at the market next Thursday, explore Cook With What You Have upcoming classes here.

Join us at the market this summer and get started on your next flavor adventure!

EverGreen launches!

The EverGreen cat is officially out of the bag. Our EverGreen composting and recycling campaign got a nice write up today in The Oregonian’s PDX Green column. Read more here and join us at the market tomorrow to see it all in action.

When you stop by the market this weekend, look for the multitude of Earth Day celebration activities happening, including make your own toothpaste and deodorant workshops with Create Plenty, an egg carton creatures activity for kids, hosted by Song Garden Preschool and make your own market kit, hosted by PFM volunteers. Season sponsor COUNTRY Financial will also be on hand distributing reusable tote bags to our produce loving shoppers. Mayor Sam Adams will cap off the celebration with a public launch of EverGreen at 11:30am. It promises to be a day chock full of good food, good community, and good fun.

See you at the market!

new faces

In this installment of “behind the scenes” at Portland Farmers Market, we’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our team, EverGreen Coordinator Ryan McLaughlin. Ryan is a recent transplant to Portland from North Carolina, bringing with him a commitment to environmental conservation, mad trash sorting skills, and an aversion to car ownership. When he is not at the PSU market wrangling refuse and entertaining our EverGreen volunteers, Ryan also works with the Oregon Microenterprise Institute, a statewide association of microenterprise development programs and their supporters. You may occasionally catch him whipping in and out of the Leftbank building on his bike, en route to one adventure or another. Here’s our 30 second glimpse into the head of a refuse loving, okra eating, self described data geek:

PFM: Why are you drawn to the wild world of trash?

Ryan: A combination of fascination with resource use and a childlike desire to be taboo. Trash is one of our ultimate societal outcasts, and we have designed waste systems to remove it from our sight and mind. So by dismissing the norm and embracing waste, I get to feel like a kid who’s doing something bad while having a blast.

PFM: What do you hope we accomplish with the EverGreen campaign?

Ryan: Ultimately, I hope that we will build a system that works year after year. Quantitatively, I would love to see us surpass our 50% diversion goal at PSU by an additional 25%, for a total of 75% diversion.

PFM: Aside from sorting refuse, what’s the best part about working for PFM and/or at the market each week?

Ryan: The atmosphere. I work for a non-profit in an office downtown during the week, so it is really fulfilling to work alongside thousands of excited people in the open air every Saturday.

PFM: What is your favorite season to eat and why?

Ryan: Oh man, that’s tough. Well, I love eating in winter when my body craves rich, nourishing foods. There is something deeply satisfying about eating delicious food when it’s freezing and wet outside. On the other side of that coin, who can complain about the late summer cornucopia? I love the range of colors and flavors that are available at the end of summer, and the transition into fall is an exciting time to cook because the spices I use start to change and suddenly I find myself buying butter again.

PFM: Anything else you’d like the Leftbank community to know about you?

Ryan: What is this, the Dating Game? I’m an Aries, enjoy moonlit walks and smooth jazz…No, seriously, I really want to raise ducks this year, and need to meet someone soon that I can talk to about that. Perhaps someone can connect me with a backyard duck farmer?

If you know that duck farmer, want to volunteer for the EverGreen campaign, or just want to say hi and welcome Ryan to the building, email [email protected] anytime.

See you at the market!

New Faces

The countdown to opening day continues with only one week left before we pull out the tents and ring the opening bell for our flagship market, the Portland Farmers Market at PSU, opening March 20. If you haven’t already heard, we will expand to include the block directly south of its existing location. The expansion will allow the more than 120 vendors and 10,000+ shoppers more space to shop for farm-fresh produce, baked goods, meats, cheeses, seafood and more. Although the Saturday PSU farmers’ market location will double in size, we will not double the number of vendor booths. Instead, vendor booths will line up along the perimeter of the South Park Blocks, eliminating the majority of the inner ring of vendors’ stalls (aka ‘mud row’) formerly packed into the previous market footprint.

If you want to do some advance reconnaissance to find your favorite farmer fast, we have provided a map of the vendor locations for opening day. The locations shift week by week as the season progresses. Look for these new vendors as you stroll through the market this season:

Farm. – Farm. is an exciting new produce venture in Oregon’s French Prairie region. Young farmers have come together, informed by the tried and true practices of the American family farmer.

15 Miles Farm – This local farm sells a variety of certified organic fruits and vegetables, and a large portion of their harvest is donated to local charities including the Oregon Food Bank.

Nut-Tricious Foods – Nut-Tricious Foods specializes in agave nectar-sweetened fresh nut and seed butter blends, including almond, cashew, hazelnut and walnut. Utilizing their unique and proprietary processes, they maintain the nut and seeds’ nutritional value and benefits. They will be at the market once a month as a product representative.

Oregon Kombucha – Oregon Kombucha creates kombucha – a naturally fermented tea beverage – from cultures grown in Portland using only four ingredients. Half of the tea used for brewing is sourced locally. They will be at the market once a month as a product representative.

Pasta del Sol – Pasta del Sol will be offering fresh pasta, including linguine, rigatoni, rotini and other assorted fresh and organic noodles.

Sassafrass Catering – Sassasfras will be selling their line of unique relishes, chutneys and preserves based on old-world Southern recipes. All of their products are created in small batches at the peak of the season, and they strive to buy their ingredients directly from local farmers.

Sexton Ranches – Sexton Ranches is a family owned ranch in Eastern Oregon that raises natural grass-fed and grass-finished lamb and beef, plus pastured poultry and eggs from pastured hens.

Upright Brewing Company – This small craft brewery specializes in French and Belgian-inspired farmhouse ales, which will be available in 750 ml bottles.

Via Chicago – Chicago-style pizza for real! Via Chicago makes the real thing four different ways, with the freshest local ingredients around.

See you at the market!

Let’s concentrate our focus on welcoming our new neighbors

Hey Leftbankers,

Please join me in welcoming our new neighbors – Focus the Nation – who have just moved into Suite 212.  Their mission statement is “Empowering a Generation to Power a Nation” and, in their own words:

Focus the Nation is a national non-profit headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It was founded in 1999 by professor and economist, Eban Goodstein. We believe in the science of climate change and the opportunity it presents to rebuild American communities and US leadership at the local and international level.

We are driven by a fierce commitment to empower young people with the leadership, educational and civic engagement opportunities that will accelerate our transformation to a more just and prosperous clean energy future.

For more information on the kinds of the things Focus the Nation stands for please check out their website here.