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)

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!

grilling for good

The Holy Day of Barbecue will soon be upon us. Are you looking to shake it up, get out from behind the grill, and do something different this year? How about joining us for our Build a Burger fundraiser BBQ at the King Market on Sunday, July 4th between 11-1? Build a Burger will feature market-fresh burgers (and Tofurky for the veggies among us) with all the fixin’s, courtesy of market vendors and area businesses. All proceeds from the scrumptious event benefit Foodshare Fund Northeast, a market money matching program for SNAP recipients (SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) who shop the King Portland Farmers Market.

Find out more about Build a Burger here and our market money match programs here.

See you at the market!

Get sketchy

Why sketch a still life when you can sketch real life?

At least that’s how the Urban Sketchers see it. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the artistic, storytelling, and educational value of location drawing, Urban sketchers promotes the practice of capturing everyday phenomena through a variety of mediums and connects artists around the world through a network of blogs and photo-sharing groups. By providing an online forum in which people connect through their personal artwork, Urban Sketchers has created a new type of dynamic social media that reflects not only the artists’ individual experiences, but also the living, breathing scenes and cities that they have captured. If a picture can say a thousand words, the Urban Sketchers project speaks volumes.

As a city that embodies all things ‘local’ and ‘artistic,’ it’s no wonder that the Urban Sketchers of Portland have thrived as a chapter of this global network. Combining Portland’s artistic appreciation and support for the local food movement, Urban Sketchers of Portland have designated this Sunday’s King Portland Farmers Market as the next location of it’s city-wide ‘sketchcrawl’ . They invite all artists – professional, self-proclaimed, or amateur – to join in, so maybe it’s your turn to slow down, take a break, and see the world one drawing at a time.

See you at the market!

Learn a little, give a little, grow a little

For the last couple of years, Portland Farmers Market has been delving into the question of food equity, examining the role we can play in getting farm-fresh produce into the hands of our neighbors who need it most. In 2009, this work took the form of a new “market money” matching program for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) recipients shopping our King Portland Farmers Market. Created by the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and managed by a team of dedicated volunteers, Foodshare Fund Northeast provided a dollar for dollar match up to $5 per week for customers who use EBT cards at the market. In 2010, the match has increased to $10 per week.

The inaugural year of Foodshare Fund Northeast resulted in a significant increase in the number of EBT cardholders shopping the market, from 1% of all shoppers at the beginning of the 2009 market season, to 5% of shoppers by season’s end. This encouraging news tells us that everyone values access to fresh produce, not just those who are most able to afford it. Nutrition incentive programs such as the Foodshare Fund are helping us grow healthier individuals, healthier families, and a healthier community for all our citizens.

Foodshare Fund Northeast was the inspiration for Fresh Exchange, a similar matching program launched this year at our Buckman Market in southeast Portland. Fresh Exchange provides a dollar for dollar match up to $5 for shoppers using EBT cards at the market. Fresh Exchange was initiated by members of the Portland Business Alliance’s Leadership Portland program in collaboration with Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition. Like Foodshare Fund Northeast, Fresh Exchange is managed by committed volunteers and funded solely by local individuals and businesses, including founding support from the Portland Trail Blazers, Wells Fargo, and Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf, P.C.

Both matching programs are actively fundraising to ensure a solid endowment for this season and beyond. To that end, check out this series of upcoming garden workshops at the Buckman Market to benefit Fresh Exchange. The workshops will tell you everything you need to know to get on your gardening way, beginning with an overview of seeding, planting and watering this Thursday, June 3, from 5:30-6:30. Registration is encouraged but not required. Drop by the market and join us.

Click here to learn more about Foodshare Fund Northeast and Fresh Exchange, including how you can help us sustain these valuable programs.

See you at the market!

volunteer voices

It’s no exaggeration to say that Portland Farmers Market would not exist without volunteers. Volunteer power launched PFM almost twenty years ago, it played a crucial role in building the organization into the local foods powerhouse that it is today, and it sustains us through each hectic market season. From counting tokens at the office to fielding customer questions from the Market information booth, we rely on this rock-solid base of foodies to help us keep up the good work and laugh a lot while doing so.

Take a peek behind the red volunteer apron with this blog post from one of our newest volunteers, Nicolette Smith.

See you at the market!

big week for the market

We are looking ahead to a busy week in the food world. With three markets opening, the Portland Farmers Market office is buzzing, the totes are flying, and the market maps are being finalized. Check our our latest blog entry for all the details.

See you at the market!

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!