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Of Cabbages and...
Market Developments in Portland
by Miriam Knight
The Portland Farmers’ Market is the largest of the markets in the metro region. The Saturday market, from 8am to 1pm in SW Park Blocks near PSU, is the largest with some 70 vendors. The Wednesday market is smaller, more European in style with about 40 vendors. It is held from 10am to 2pm at SW Park Blocks near Salmon. The newest market was started in response to the request of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association. It will run Thursday evenings, 4-8pm from July 5th to August 27th at NW Park Blocks between Burnside and Glisan.

Dianne Stefani-Ruff, manager of the market, was excited about some of the new features of the market this year, like once-a-month Saturday tastings of what’s in season and kids cooking classes. Among the local farmers and vendors attracted to the market, over half are organic, and they also have the largest stands and the biggest variety. In addition to produce, you will find plants, baked goods, beef, lamb and the most wonderful goat cheeses – feta and hard cheese.

The Farmers’ Market is due to get a big brother, a new Portland Public Market. Within a few months the decision should be taken as to which of three choices will be the permanent home of the new market, currently on City Hall drawing boards.

“This public market is not just a Farmers’ Market on steroids. It will have other dimensions – a sense of permanence and place.” The Portland Public Market seems to be part of Ron Paul’s subtle campaign to infuse the Portland scene with some European flair, la Americaine.
The energetic Chief of Staff to Commissioner Charlie Hales is full of enthusiastic plans for the project that will take 4 to 5 years to complete. The market will offer something for Portland residents and visitors of all ages and means, and if it realizes only part of Ron Paul’s dream, it will be a truly vibrant contribution to the life and appeal of the city.

There will be a winery to showcase local wines and offer tastings and information on winemaking. There will be a major educational component to the market, including tours for students, demonstration kitchens and opportunities for high school students to join apprentice programs and work with local farmers learning the food business from the inside. The ongoing education program will emphasize nutrition and ecology. It will support the Oregon Food Bank and gleaning, as the present Farmers’ Market does.

The City hopes to create a market district on 5 or 6 blocks of underdeveloped land, and currently there is a shortlist of 3 sites under consideration. They hope to make the decision by the fall. The current Portland Farmers market will be relocated alongside the new permanent structure, so that vendors of perishables like meat and dairy will have indoor space available for refrigerated display cases.

Former restaurateur Paul was the first guest chef from Oregon to be invited to cook at the foundation set up by Julia Childs and others in memory of the late food writer and bon vivant, James Beard. Paul was instrumental in attracting the support of the James Beard Foundation for the Portland Public market. Beard was from Oregon and the Foundation felt that the market was a fitting recipient of support, and they will donate Beard’s papers to a library to be established as part of the market.