Local Bounty Offered at Festive Outdoor Market
The green and leafy South Park Blocks, next to Portland State University, are crammed with shoppers on Saturdays, from late March to mid-December.
About 250 vendors sell their wares at Saturday Market at PSU. Most of the stalls are piled with the bright colors of vegetables and fruits from regional farms. Everything is local and in season, from tender young asparagus in spring to hefty pumpkins in the fall. In early summer you find delicate juicy strawberries far superior to those in most supermarkets. Blueberries follow, and delectable peaches, along with dozens of types of greens.
There are honey stands, too, and stalls with handcrafted candies, freshly baked bread and cookies, wild mushrooms, and a profusion of flowers.
Bluegrass, Balloons & Pizza
The atmosphere in the park is festive, with musicians playing lively bluegrass tunes and children scampering to the top-hatted balloon man. The air is redolent with the mingled scents of hot coffee, pizza, spicy chili, tamales, and just-baked bread. Almost every vendor offers samples. You can taste many kinds of apples, homemade jams and sauces, dried cherries coated with chocolate, and scores of other treats. Tourists wander through, enchanted by the busy market, which is a national leader in promoting healthful foods. Dogs, even leashed, are not allowed in the throng of shoppers.
Portland Farmers Market works with numerous community partners and hunger-relief organizations to donate perishable produce and help low-income seniors. There are 33 more farmers markets in Portland neighborhoods and nearby towns.
The market is not only a place to stock up on tasty groceries and enjoy a crepe or pizza slice. Numerous events are held, including:
- Chef in the Market. Periodic demonstrations are held by noted chefs on how to cook well seasonally.
- Kids Cook at the Market. Children aged 7 to 15 take cooking classes taught by pros.
- Get Growing Portland. Those who’ve purchased herbs and vegetable starts can pot them and learn the best methods in the growing shed.
- Preserving Series. An 8-week series on how to best preserve foods.
- Market Festivals. The Great Pumpkin Event, a harvest celebration, and the Thanksgiving FEASTival, with everything needed for a homemade feast.
This is the largest of five urban markets that form the Portland Farmers Market Collective. The others, all featuring fresh local products, are:
- Wednesday Market in Downtown Portland, on the South Park Blocks between S.W. Salmon and Main streets. Dates: April 29-October 28.
- Sunday Market in the King Neighborhood, at N.E. 7th and Wygant streets, between N.E. Alberta and Prescott. Dates: May 3-September 27.
- Thursday Market Eastbank, at S.E. 2nd and Salmon streets, between S.E. Belmont and Hawthorne, in the parking lot of Hinson Baptist Church. Dates: May 7-September 24.
- Thursday EcoTrust in the Pearl District, in the parking lot of Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center on N.W. 10th Avenue between Irving and Johnson streets. Dates: June 4-September 24.