the true cost of a t-shirt

Have you ever looked at the ubiquitous symbol of comfort that is the t-shirt and thought about the ‘ingredients’ that go into the finished product? Take the two most obvious: water and cotton. One organic cotton t-shirt is coaxed into existence by more than 400 gallons of water. Conventional cotton production accounts for roughly a quarter of all pesticides used in the U.S., according to the USDA. That’s a heavy load to wear.

Even though Portland Farmers Market is in the food business, we dabble in the world of apparel when we choose which t-shirts to offer for retail sale at the markets. Each year, we take a close look at the sourcing and components of the apparel we select, seeking out merchandise that reflects our values to the greatest extent possible. We believe our name belongs on only the most local and sustainable option out there. That’s why we are particularly excited to partner with Looptworks to create our t-shirts for the upcoming season. Looptworks is a Portland-based apparel manufacturing company using 100% “upcycled” materials. Rather than manufacturing shirts from new materials, Looptworks uses quality, unused fabric that is destined to be discarded before it is made into finished pieces when the factory has completed a production run. This means everything Looptworks creates is from pre-consumer excess. The company’s goal is to promote closed loop manufacturing by making good use of surplus textiles, pushing for textile recycling at the community level, and advocating for textiles to be recycled into new fabrics. As a result, the manufacturing ‘loop’ is complete with less or no new materials needed. Bottom line: Looptworks is in the business of turning waste into want. That’s exactly the kind of company Portland Farmers Market is proud to support.

For a closer look at life cycle of apparel, see this article from Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

volunteers, we love you.

Like many small non-profits, Portland Farmers Market wouldn’t be the gem of an organization that it is without the passionate energy of dedicated volunteers. We have the good fortune of working with a core group of forty people who help with everything from staffing the information booth at the Saturday PSU Market to assisting with cooking classes for children during the summer months. As we prepare to open for our 19th season, we want to give a special shout out to these fine folks, many of whom have been with us for several years of service. We are extremely grateful for these fun-loving, enthusiastic volunteers who are committed to spreading the good food gospel. We couldn’t do it without you!

Would you like to join our volunteer ranks this year? If so, please email [email protected] for more information about current opportunities.

See you at the market!


before anything else, the finest site I have seen in some time:  Paper Make Stack.

One of the finest parts of collaborating on a project with scope as diverse as leftbank’s has been the many opportunities to involve friends….   Justin Gorman was one such contributor..  he helped make the building a creative space well before it was arguably habitable.   Tapped initially to document the physical evolution of leftbank, Justin’s involvement soon expanded to treating the walls as canvas.   Sometime later, he was painting a large, large sign above the back lot, and an absolute fixture at T:BA’s the WORKS.    After that, we commissioned him to develop Leftbank’s interior signage (in collaboration w/me) and he’s even more recently done work w/SOLIDCORE and uncommon, taking position as an early leader in the effort to maximize the collaborative potential of the place.       One of Justin’s most recent works is the development of his own (half self promotional/half creative clearinghouse) website called Paper Make Stack. You’ll like it.

Taste Testing

How many people can say they eat for a living? Here at Portland Farmers Market, we have the good fortune of doing just that during product jury time. Every year as part of the application process, a select group of potential processed food vendors are invited to bring in their goods for evaluation by a panel of PFM staff and Market Advisory Council members. Products are assessed based on a number of factors. Although passing the taste test is the most important criteria, the jury panel also takes a hard look at ingredient sourcing, aesthetics and packaging, balance of products in the marketplace, and alignment with PFM’s mission

This season, we received a record number of extraordinary applicants. The jury had the honor of sampling 20 entries representing everything from baked goods to wine to chutney. After several hours of eating and drinking, the jury panel was faced with some very tough decisions. Even though we had to decline many qualified vendors based on space availability and market needs, the sheer diversity of entries tells us this will be a banner year for artisan foods in Portland.

Among the businesses that will be joining PFM for the 2010 season are Oregon Kombucha, Sassafras Catering, and Leftbank’s own Upright Brewing Company. Congratulations, Alex & Co.!

36 days and counting

The applications are in for the upcoming Portland Farmers Market season and we are ecstatic to report receiving over 600 entries for our six market locations! We are most excited to report submissions from more than 25 new (to PFM) farms. That means there’s a good chance you will get to meet some new faces at the market this year. Stay tuned for hints on new vendors and products you can expect to see!

Mark your calendar now to greet the first day of spring with fellow food lovers on opening day at our flagship Saturday at PSU market. The market will be open 8:30am – 2:00pm every Saturday through December 18. (9:00am – 2:00pm in November & December.)

As long as you have that calendar open, please take note of opening dates and hours for our other markets. Find your favorite and join us to welcome the farmers back to the heart of the city. Or better yet, plan a trip to each location and discover the unique flavor every market has to offer.

Sunday at King Elementary School (NE 7th & NE Wygant)
May 2 – October 31
10:00am – 2:00pm

Monday at Pioneer Courthouse Square (SW 6th & SW Yamhill)
June 21 – October 25
10:00am – 2:00pm

Wednesday at Shemanski Park (SW Park & SW Salmon)
May 5 – October 27
10:00am – 2:00pm

Thursday at Hinson Church (SE 20th & SE Salmon)
May 6 – September 30
3:00pm – 7:00pm

Thursday at NW 23 (NW 23rd & NW Savier)
June 3 – September 30
3:00pm – 7:00pm

See you at the market!

meet the leftbank dogs – part 2

This week we have the distinct pleasure of meeting Dogan, the  beautiful Golden Retriever you have probably seen wandering around the  building.  Dogan’s companion is Bethany from Blue Tree Strategies  located on the second floor.  I often walk past their office and see  Dogan chilling out by the glass partition, the remnants of various toys strewn around him.

Dogan is 4 years old and is originally from South Carolina.  He’s a fine Southern Gentleman who enjoys long walks on the beach and frequent  skinny dipping to retrieve balls.  Bethany adopted him from a rescue organization just over two years ago and gave him a wonderful second chance to have a meaningful, fulfilling life.  Together they drove out to Portland about 7 months ago, visiting over 12 states along the way.  His favorite foods are bacon (who doesn’t love bacon??) and cake.  Let them eat cake, I say.

Dogan visiting our office for his interview and being a perfect gentleman

Dogan visiting our office for his interview

Dogan is very lucky to be allowed to sleep on Bethany ‘s bed, provided he gets her up on time and provides lots of snuggles.  He, unlike my dog Chica, is very generous with his space and sticks to his half of the bed.

Dogan has a girlfriend (he is such a handsome guy, after all – who could resist him?) Her name is Stevie (as in Nicks?) and she is a  German Shepherd.  I’m sure they make a stunning couple.

Next time you see Dogan, stop and say hi. He is very friendly and loves to meet new people.

Meet the leftbank dogs

This week we are introducing Greta the German Shorthair Pointer.  At the tender age of 3 1/2, Greta presents herself as a very proud lady, as evidenced from her profile picture.  Greta’s companions are Holly and David from DC202 and Greta comes to work with them every day where she gets to hang out with the rest of the DC202 crew – human and canine alike.  She has lots of canine friends in the DC202 office including Suvi, Sid and Tucker (who we will introduce later in this series).  Tucker provides the local ear cleaning service which Greta seems to love.

Greta receiving Tucker's salon services

Greta receiving Tucker's salon services

...and now for the right ear.

...and now for the right ear.

Greta’s favorite place to run is the beach and she makes the journey out to the coast often.  She also loves to roam around the area where she lives and, being as she is a pointer – originally bred for hunting, she loves the game of hide and seek.  David hides a tasty morsel somewhere in the grounds behind their house and Greta loves to go hunting for it.  She is also partial to bones and, if there are none to be had, she can often be found with her favorite toy – a ball.   Greta loves to play fetch and can play for hours in Forest Park.

So, next time you pass Greta in the Leftbank hallways, please stop and say hi. shining a light on a fellow leftbank neighbor

Our newest Hive member, Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief of recently interviewed Upstream’s Mel Rader about his involvement in a Transportation Seminar Series at Portland State University which investigates links between transport (greenhouse gas emissions) and health.  You can check out this interview here.

Uncommon Relief for Haiti

We have all been watching the horrors in Haiti unfold over the past ten days.   Some of us have been doing more than just watching.   Our Leftbank neighbors at Uncommon have been rolling their sleeves up and helping to raise funds for the disaster relief efforts of the Red Cross.  Please visit their website here to find out how you can be a part of this process.  Also, please don’t forget that you can easily donate $10 by texting “Haiti” to 9099 on your cellphone.

One building – 95 ideas

The submissions are in… 95 in all.  And you are invited to learn all about them.  Which vision for Portland’s Memorial Coliseum will win the hearts and minds of the Rose Quarter Advisory Committee?  On January 26th, all those who submitted an idea will have an opportunity to present their vision to the general public.  The event will be held at the Coliseum (a mere stone’s throw away) and doors open at 5pm.  For more information and to register for free tickets click here.