Market Day ~ Growing our own Food - The Food Evolution in Portland, OR

How can we truly become a sustainable city?

One of my visions of a local, food movement in Portland is neighbors able to support each other by coming together to sell or trade food that is grown within walking or biking distance of the community gathering place - the farmers’ market.

This dream is being lived out here in Portland by many groups and individuals that are starting to grow their own food as well as food for others, in the form of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and small urban farms selling at farmers’ markets.

See the links below to find out more about what is happening on a global scale and how the local food movement is inciting people to grow food for their own families as well as making a living from growing food on available land in Portland.

Thank you again for those who have taken the time to read these emails and for responding to our survey about the Interstate Farmers’ Market for this past year.

Our community board is planning a retreat in January and any information we receive will be used in the strategy for growing a sustainable farmers’ market over the next few years. Here is the link (one last time) for our IFM customer survey:

2008 IFM Customer Survey 

Much of the feedback we’ve received from the IFM survey has been positive about the reasons why people attend the Interstate Farmers’ Market.  Some of the requests or changes that we’ve read have mostly focused on 2 issues: price of the food and availability of more vegetables at the market for 2009.

IFM is planning to grow the market for 2009 and we’ll need your help to make this happen in many ways.  As market manager, I keep my finger on the pulse of the market to provide a mix of fruits, vegetables, prepared and processed foods that provides for both the customer and vendor.  The balance of vendors to the number of customers is a delicate and unpredictable task.

One of our biggest vegetable vendors, Sweet Leaf Farm, experienced long lines of customers all season long, but also wound up taking lots of food back to the farm.  Another vendor, City Garden Farms, grew food for a CSA on local plots of land within the city and sold at IFM during July and is looking for more available land to be able to sell at markets throughout the summer (see picture at left and above).

We’ll be searching for more vegetable vendors to compliment the farms that continue to sell at IFM each year.  We’ll also be searching for cheese and egg vendors to round out the selection of foods that our customers have been requesting.  Other vendors will be added and our outreach to the neighborhoods around the market will bring more customers to support local food.

We conducted crowd counts each market and reached our peak at an estimated 1770 customers for the July 9th market (our average was close to 1200 customers per market).  We would love to be able to double this number of customers for next year.  Word of mouth is our biggest tool for helping make this happen!

Thank you for contributing to the market!  If you would like to get involved, IFM will be organizing a volunteer meeting early in the new year.  We’d love to have you!

In cooperation,
Bob New, IFM Manager
contact [at]

Photo credits: Pictures in this email taken by City Garden Farms.

Here are some links to resources you can use:

Some communities in Portland have already turned to tool sharing, both literally and figuratively.  Take the 4-year success of the North Portland Tool Library lending tools to North Portland residents that include shovels, rakes, hoes for growing your own food.

The newly formed NE Portland Tool Library offers similar tools to NE neighborhoods.  I would love to see other tool libraries pop up around the city until we’ve started to share our resources block by block…

A few urban, educational farms can add skills the a gardener’s bucket.  Visit these links to find out more about workshops from Portland Permaculture Institute, Tryon Life Community Farm, or Zenger Farm.

Another organization that is encouraging neighbors to dig up their driveways and paved areas to plant gardens is the non-profit organization, Depave.

The planning of a new farmers’ market in North Portland has our northern neighbors excited.  Over 50 people attended a November 6th meeting to determine the mission, goals and strategies for bringing a farmers market to St. Johns in 2009. To receive updates, notifications and general information, please email the St Johns Farmers’ Market.

An exciting new website, Portland Yard Sharing, is helping to connect neighbors who want to farm within the city with people that have land available for urban agriculture.  A few people have posted available plots including Dan at City Garden Farms looking for a larger plot of land to plant for a CSA and farmers’ markets in 2009:

I’m looking for a particularly large plot of land to add to the City Garden Farms collective of sub-acre urban farms.  5000 sq ft is about the size of a common city lot (50′ x 100′)

Over the past year City Garden Farms has been offered many yards by so many gracious people.  However, many of them are just too small or too far away from us to use efficiently.  I think that many people on this group would be able to make use of these plots if they can work out an agreement with the owner.  I’ll surely be referring the owners of our unusable (by CGF, but still great) yards to the Portland Yard Sharing website from now on.

A few small businesses have started from the idea that urban land can grow food.  Check out the business models of Sunroot Gardens, Your Backyard Farmer and City Garden Farms and see how they are bringing food to communities.

The Food Policy Council is a citizen-based advisory council to the City of Portland and Multnomah County. The Council brings citizens and professionals together from the region to address issues regarding food access, land use planning issues, local food purchasing plans and many other policy initiatives in the current regional food system.
Food Policy Council minutes

And for a global perspective, check out the 5 part series in the Washington Post about the Global Food Crisis that shows how choices of all nations are affecting our food supply.  Also, Michael Pollan wrote a letter to the next president called Farmer in Chief helping to map out a new food policy for America.

Volunteer Opportunities!

The Interstate Farmers’ Market’s mission is:
·    To provide a sustainable, community-owned farmers’ market to North/inner Northeast Portland neighborhoods,
·    Strengthen the local economy through support of local farmers,
·    Empower North and inner Northeast Portland residents and commuters to be healthier by increasing their consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables,
·    Build community assets through volunteerism, public/private partnerships and pride of place.

We need your help all season long and in the off-season too…

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Bob New, IFM Market Manager at the information above.  THANKS!

2010 IFM Season
Wednesdays - 3pm to 7pm
May - September

3550 N. Interstate Ave.
Next to Overlook Park on the Max Yellow Line

SNAP/Oregon Trail ACCEPTED!  (Just come to the info booth and we will swipe your card and give you tokens to spend with the vendors.)
WIC/Seniors Checks ACCEPTED! (Bring your checks directly to vendors displaying a WIC/Seniors sign)

Contact us today and join our dedicated team.

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