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Archive for August, 2013

Chili Roaster Returneth

Ah, holiday weekend. By law in Oregon; possibly it’s more of a custom, but in any imagecase the grill needs to be fired up at least once this three day weekend. If you’re staying in town this weekend or grill-less, let Westwind Gardens do the fire roasting for you. Westwind brings dozens of chilies to our market and you can buy the chilies whole or let Westwind drop them in their fire roaster and buy a bag of spicy, smoky goodness. The bags are good for immediate use, also freeze well, because it’s never too early to start planning for your BCS Championship party (Go team!) or NFL gamedays. Westwind is at the market for a limited time in the fall; okay late summer. (That didn’t make me feel better, where have you gone summer?)

Also this weekend Oregon’s own salt makers, Jacobsen will be at PSU. Jacobsen sells their salt from the seaside, but they are also working with some of the area’s brightest culinary stars in a series of dinners highlighting the bounty of the Pacific NW. You can learn more by jumping to this article.

imageLabor Day is on Monday. Because of the holiday, there will be no Pioneer Square Market. Plenty of Kenton, King and PSU, but Monday is Market free. Don’t worry I’ll repeat this again by the end of this post.

Buckman, Thursday, Ruby Jewel will be at Buckman. Your wee ones can help make ice cream and they can burn off the calories before they even take a bite. Totally shaken, each batch of ice cream needs about 20 minutes of shaking, so bring the little hands. 3-7 in the kids play zone.

Oly Kraut is at King. Sausage needs kraut, this is really the law. Maybe your grilled foods need a little sauce. Marshall’s Haute Sauce has your back. For the cuisine-bending cooks and grillmasters, Choi’s kimchi on a burger, sausage, or as Dave at Bingo taught us, on a hot dog is about the most awesome thing ever.

Deck family farms offers meats worthy of your grill/smoker. Visit them at King. Hot Mama salsa makes chips an event.

Cathy Whims of Nostrana will be cooking at PSU and Portland Magazine will have free copies of their magazine as Cathy works her craft. Less than 50 feet away, Greg Perrault will be hanging with the Bairds grilling peaches.

**PIONEER SQUARE MARKET CLOSED ON MONDAY**

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An Hour at the Buckman Market

By Peter D’Auria

Peter is a PFM volunteer who is having fun discovering (and devouring) Portland, one farmers market at a time.

DSCN0680The Buckman Farmers Market takes up a small parking lot in the shadow of Hinson Baptist Church, at SE Salmon and 20th, Thursdays from 3 to 7. The market features about 30 stalls with items like farm-fresh produce, wine, flowers, and cheese, plus a row comprised of snack vendors. There were a few chairs on the west end of the lot and a man with a guitar singing folk songs under a little tent.

The market has a calm, summery vibe. There were at least as many people sitting in the chairs, listening to the music, as there were browsing the stalls. At the center of the market was a Play Zone, where kids made “fruit snakes” to eat. The fruit snakes looked honestly pretty good but I felt that I was probably over the age limit, so I wandered off in search of some other samples. I ate some cold slices of cantaloupe and watermelon on toothpicks from the Gathering Together Farm booth, a chunk of spinach feta bread (buttered) from Great Harvest Bread Co., some Cashew Cheese flavored kale chips from The Kale Company’s booth.

DSCN0683The man with the guitar sang “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key”. In the sunny mid-afternoon it was easy to want nothing more than to sit in one of the shady chairs and listen to the music.

To combat this I bought ice cream. The marionberry flavor (Scoop Handmade Ice Cream) seemed like it would be refreshing and summery, and it was. Scoop gave out big scoops. “This is the highlight of my week,” said the woman in line in front of me, receiving a cone of double stacked Bourbon Buttered Pecan.

I trundled around the parking lot with my cone. After making a full circle I saw that the neighboring Momo Cart was advertising on a chalkboard “Yak Momos.”

“What is a yak momo?” I asked.

Momos are a kind of stuffed Nepalese dumplings, the cart man explained, and he told me the story of how an Oregon rancher had smuggled a small number of yaks out of Tibet in the 80s, and now raised them on a ranch near Bend. “What does it taste like?” I asked. As a vegetarian I was unable to try it myself.

“It’s really not weird,” he said. “Less gamey than cow.”

DSCN0678In the end I couldn’t resist the lure of the shaded lawn chairs. “I got the West Memphis blues again,” the guitarist sang. A man in a blue cardigan got up and danced. Some kids sat on the blacktop and listened. I thought about yak smuggling. I crunched the last of my cone. Fresh local food may be what gets you to the Buckman Market, but I think you’ll agree that walking around in the sun and listening to everything going on is half the fun. Although it helps if you have ice cream.

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Hyper Local

In Town Ag grows food. Not on a 500 acre farm in Lane County replete with the red barn and tricked out tractor, nor do they raise crops on a 5 acre plot on Sauvie’s Island; In Town operates on a completely different proposition and a completely scale: they use spare lots, under-utilized garden plots and parking medians to produce food via garden share. Enough food that they have excess to sell at area markets.

Using a different approach to land means In Town must have a different approach to growing food. Drawing on founder Justin Simms’ background in environmental science and landscape design, In Town is able to employ a wide array of approaches to agriculture, from the familiar square foot gardening, drip irrigation, and greenhouses to the less well known practices of biointensive agriculture – the closed loop system that focuses on yields through fertility of the soil – and cloches – which can mean a hat in fashion or in French, a bell, but in agriculture refers to covers for crops to the mundane leaf mulching, trenching and organic fertilizers. About the only thing not on the table for consideration is the application of herbicides or pesticides.

In a little of a year In Town has capitalized on desire of Portlanders to make the most out of their land and neighborhoods and will trade land for expertise and a 5050 split of the crops. Justin explains, “In our first year we already have established gardens in the following neighborhoods: South Tabor, Richmond, Woodstock, Montavilla, Ladds, and St Johns. Our gardens range from small raised beds to entire urban residential lots including sidewalk strips. There is a huge demand for garden sharing from residents and we are adding coworkers with a profit sharing system to maximize sales at farmers markets this year and expand to local grocers and restaurants by 2014.”

Enjoy the pictures below and visit In Town at the King and St. John’s Markets. Beautiful Veg, great story, stop by for both.

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Red, Red, Brandywines

by Kelly Merrick

This week I witnessed one of nature’s most beautiful feats in my very own backyard: the slow ripening of a big, juicy Brandywine tomato. But this isn’t just any tomato. It’s the very first heirloom tomato I have ever grown myself.

Couldn't Be Prouder

Couldn’t Be Prouder

The sight of my ripening Brandywines practically makes me giddy. Much like a parent, I rush home every day after work to greet my tomatoes, marveling at how much they grew or ripened that day, and at the same time grateful that I managed to keep them alive. You see, this is my first garden, and the first time I’ve ever grown tomatoes. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I purchased my precious Brandywine tomato starts a few months ago from SunGold Farms, took them home, planted them in what seemed to be the perfect-sized container, and promptly ignored all of the traditional advice experienced gardeners would give. Then I started watching them grow, hoping I would be lucky enough to avoid the common problems that plague many tomato-growers.

And somehow, I have.

Since I noticed the first sign of the first tomato ripening, I’ve been planning how I’m going to eat it, and so far, I can’t decide.

Do I simply slice it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper? Or serve it Caprese style? Do I add it to the top of a juicy hamburger? Or grill it on top of a slice of eggplant with some goat feta? The possibilities are endless, so what do you think?image

If you’re not sure either, then perhaps you should visit one of the weekend markets and bring some home to try yourself, because the stands are practically bursting with a rainbow of the most beautiful and flavorful tomatoes you’ve ever seen.

But enough about tomatoes, because there are plenty of other, equally as worthwhile, things you can find at the market.

Like live music at the PSU, Kenton and Pioneer Square markets. Or Rogue Brewing’s Great American Beerd Festival.

The festival will take place this weekend and not surprisingly, will feature beer and beards a-plenty. The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday starting at Noon on Portland State’s campus, in Smith Memorial Hall and aside from the great brews you can sample and beards you can gawk at, there’s also another reason you should go. Rogue is donating proceeds to Farmers Market Fund, the market’s companion nonprofit that operates Fresh Exchange, the market money-matching program for SNAP recipients.

Tomatoes, beer and beards. What more could you ask for at a Portland Farmers Market?

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Living the Dream on a Thursday

By Heather Pugh, PFM volunteer and farmers market enthusiast

photo 1 (8)Watching people enjoy food at farmers markets is great. It might be one of my favorite activities – and I don’t mean this in a weird voyeuristic kind of way, I mean that I love witnessing the unique interactions that take place while people explore an entire city block full of incredible local food, flavors and farmers. It’s an experience you simply don’t get from a drive-thru or grocery store.

What makes farmers markets so special? We get to spend time with the very farmers who are growing the food that is making our home-cooked meals an experience. We get to ask questions. We get to sample. Sometimes we learn the story behind a farmer’s life and they get to know ours. And hello! At PFM’s neighborhood markets, we get to listen to live music while doing it.

This Thursday turned out to be an evening full of adventure as I decided to hit up both of PFM’s Thursday afternoon markets, biking from Northwest to Buckman.

photo 4 (8)Observing and partaking in are two major components of shopping at a farmers market. For instance, I had the pleasure of witnessing a shopper at the Northwest Market contort her face in the most hilarious way after trying Mickelberry Gardens’ honey apple vinegar tonic for the first time. I completely empathized with this experience, but once you get past the puckering, the health benefits of this stuff are so worth it. For the time being, the shopper squinted her eyes, smacked her lips, and contented herself with a supply of their honey sugar scrub instead.

Minutes later, another lady and I shook our heads in disbelief as we were infused with the giddiness of five-year-old children running free on a farm after biting into Baird Family Orchards’ juicy and oh-so-very-sweet Sun Crest Peaches. And finally, if you haven’t tried Portland Creamery’s Artisan Goat Cheese, particularly the Sweet Fire mix, make it a priority! My breakfast this morning consisted of rye bread topped with this divine product, and for the first time in my life eating toast was more like riding atop a Pegasus through big, fluffy clouds. I kid you not.

photo 3 (6)After my time at Northwest, I rode over to the Buckman Market where the Ray Mann Band was in full swing, providing a chill rhythmic backdrop for all the market lovers. A woman was reuniting with her friends who had just arrived from Japan, and this special moment was shared with laughter and playfulness as one of them joined in with the band, stunning Ray Mann himself with his drumming talent.

I was lured in by the aromas wafting over from the Columbia River Smoked Salmon tent where John Medina was dishing out samples of his fish that’s freshly harvested from the river and smoked with minimal ingredients. His approach to preparing salmon with just sea salt, cracked pepper, and alderwood smoke reminds me that sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Let the natural flavors speak for themselves.

Simplicity. Perhaps that’s the very essence of what makes the PFM markets so special. As much work that goes into making all of these markets possible, what lies at the core of their success is actually quite simple. It’s about honoring what’s fresh, local and sustainable. It’s about people embracing their craft. It’s about people appreciating both tradition and innovation. Most of all, it’s about people coming together making the most of this flavor-filled life.

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Heather is a writing and editing consultant here in Portland whose work is dedicated to pointing the spotlight onto small businesses, big hearts, healthy living, local and national artists, and empowerment through a genuine and thorough examination of one’s relationship with the surrounding world. Peruse her random life at http://darkhorsewriter.wordpress.com/ or catch her on LinkedIn.

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Woodstock Farmers Market (A Different Woodstock)

Woodstock, Illinois –

When I travel, I like to visit nearby farmers markets. It’s fun, it’s educational – there’s always more to learn about how farmers and markets address the issues caused by modern agriculture. Plus, I like fresh, local foods. My current trip has brought me to Woodstock, Illinois, famous for being the town where the movie, Groundhog Day was filmed. The town square is the very definition of quaint, I’m not here to visit Bill Murray landmarks nor did I make the journey to check out a market that was voted the #1 market in Illinois (Go Illini!), instead I have returned to the town where I attended high school and the place my dad now calls home to see parents and while I’m here I’ll check out local foods.

Woodstock

Woodstock

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Spoiler Alert – The market really impressed me.

Woodstock, located in the center of McHenry county, is about 50 miles northwest of Chicago. Move to the east and the area is quickly and decidedly exurban, moving to the west and land retains much of it’s agricultural identity that has defined the county for the last sesquicentennial, and yes I could have said 150 years, but that takes the fun out of knowing big words.

When I was a teen I could look out my window and see fields lined with perfect rows of corn or soybeans that began across the street and ended someplace in Nebraska; possibly Wyoming. Yet, the idea of eating something local, was and considering the first item I saw when I walked into the local grocery after arriving was cellophane wrapped heads of iceberg lettuce – local foods might very well still be an anathema in this area.

My brother, who arrived before me, told me it was a pretty cool market. I didn’t not believe him, but I still find myself surprised by size, the attendance and the selection of foods. Dad picks up tomatoes grown in the last town we all lived in together, Harvard. Harvard, located 20 miles up Rt. 14 has suffered as much as any midwestern town whose commerce was built on light industry and agriculture. Many of the sellers today are from Harvard, it makes me glad to see farmers doing well. It bodes well the city can draw on it’s agricultural heritage and new, younger farmers can make a go of it with direct farm sales.

imageTomatoes are a pointed choice for my father: Dad has a thing about tomatoes, his repeated belief is that no one has grown a decent tomato since when Hitler was alive. I just want to mention my pop was extremely young during this edenic junction in history and even though I understand that no single food better represents large scale production at war with family enterprises, taste and seasonality than tomatoes, it’s just not true there aren’t good tomatoes anymore. The proof is in his bag, super sweet cherry tomatoes, a variety developed in the last decade, I don’t know why he has to be all Andy Rooney about this issue. I also know logic isn’t going to win the day, so I opt out of the conversation.

I likewise get tomatoes, ground turkey, what turns out to be insanely good smoked bacon, summer squash and cheese and potato pierogi, which was combined with kielbasa and caramelized onions – a meal that is battling a deep dish (A pizza delivered by a man who couldn’t have been nicer, but also sported what appeared to be a non-ironic mullet and drove a vintage Trans-Am) as the best thing I’ve had here. The pierogi were probably better, but the whole pizza experience – I mean that just wins.

Although I had no idea, it turns out this market was here when I was. It began about 30 years ago when 3 to 6 farmers would gather on Saturdays to sell food out of their trucks. The market has now grown to 50 plus vendors and possibly about a 1,000 shoppers on hand as I visit. Downside is that only two farms sell eggs. The woman who I bought the turkey from says she brings on average 50 dozen eggs a week and will sell out in the first hour. The other vendor just chuckled at me when I asked for eggs at 11:30. All I can say is ultimately that bacon didn’t need an egg, but I really don’t see how it would have hurt.

Trips to my Ur-market in Madison and Chicago’s city run markets are on the agenda. Updates to follow. If you visit a market when you travel, we’d love to hear about and see pictures; email me at dave@portlandfarmersmarket.org
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Tomatophiles Unite

Tomatoes, not even the endless culinary options, but the history of the plant causes me to bypass my natural inclination towards digression and just go full-on Cliffy Claven about the subject. Tomatoes, a fruit sold as a veg, a decision litigated in the famous Bush V. Tomato (not the name of the case, but the status of tomato was imagedecided by the Supreme Court to be a commercial veg for the purpose of taxation.) The plant, Solanum lycopersicum, is a member of the family that brings us eggplants, potatoes and nightshade – by custom and style guides, I’m obliged to point out that’s the deadly nightshade. Tomato’s ancestral homeland is in South America, but it was widely ignored in Peru and instead it was domesticated and improved in Central America before the Aztecs took tomatoes to a whole new level.

And farmers, gardeners and nurserymen have taken tomatoes to a point that would have impressed the Aztecs – modernity now offers 7,500 cultivated varieties. At high season, area markets offer about 25% of those varieties, seemingly. Okay realistically, there’ll be 100s of tomatoes; big, wee, orange, yellow, red, ‘black’ on hand at all markets this weekend. Salads, gazpacho, sauces, salsas and/or putting an emphatic T in BLT. It’s all there, waiting for you.

PSU tomatoes with basil, garlic, plus Pasta del Sol and red wine. Add nearby goat cheese and you’ll have ravioli in tomato basil sauce; now I’m hungry. Also PSU, Gabe Rosen of Biwa will be chef demoing at our Market.

Last week, we wrote about the passing of Prairie Creek Farm’s Gene Thiel (you can read more by scrolling down). Great news–Gene’s memorial/fundraiser dinner has sold out. Special thanks to the members of the PFM community who generously donated food to the event: Sun Gold Farm, Baird Family Farm, Gathering Together Farm, Portland Creamery, Kiyokawa Orchards, and Dancing Chicken. In other Prairie Creek news, smiling Chad Dermann, who mans the Prairie Creek booth and tirelessly works at booking music at all our PFM markets, became a dad for the first time recently. Many congratulations to Chad, see if you can barter diapers for potatoes when you see him.

imageOur friends from Green Zebra Grocery will be at the Kenton Market sharing Watermelon and Feta salad this week. Kenton is 3-7 on Friday nights, come for the evening, stay for the amenities of the neighborhood.

Bernadine's birthday bounty!

Bernadine’s birthday bounty!

We have neighborhood markets in SE and NW Portland every Thursday between 3 – 7. At the most recent Buckman Market, 102-year-old Bernardine (an awesome name), fulfilled her birthday wish by visiting the farmers market. See the news clip here. The Buckman Market is located at SE 20th & Salmon every Thursday through the end of September.

King is business as usual and Monday, don’t pack a lunch because, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, tomatoes. Enjoy the golden days of summer with local foods.

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