By Ari Rosner
Hollywood Farmers Market, community volunteer coordinator
Have you experienced the great selection of fresh produce available at the Hollywood Farmers Market? Do your kids drag the family out to its fun, educational activities on Saturday morning? Or maybe you’re an occasional visitor drawn to fresh coffee and baked goods, live music, or taking in a local chef’s cooking demo?
In any case, you will definitely want to head over to the market in May, as we mark our 20th year providing a neighborhood market for farmers and other local food purveyors.
It all began in 1997 as a community-building effort by a group of highly motivated neighbors with a mission: to connect central eastside Portland residents with Oregon farmers. It has expanded into a year-round farmers market that offers a place for neighbors to meet up and explore a wonderful variety of local products from over 50 vendors each week.
Frank Battilega of Big B Farm, one of seven founding farmers, understands the value of investing the significant time, effort and equipment to showcase his produce at the market. For him, connecting with the customer is most important and at the Hollywood Farmers Market he finds out immediately what people like and what they want. Other farms that have been with the market for almost 20 years include Happy Harvest Farm, Liepold Farms, Gales Meadow Farm, Rossi Farms, and Persephone Farm. Overall, the Hollywood Farmers Market has had an 85 percent rate of vendor return year-to-year.
This continuity of our vendor community translates to a better market experience for all visitors who come each week. They can depend upon a great interaction with vendors who really care about their products. This year we have some fabulous new businesses participating, such as Portland Juice Company, Little Handfuls Organic, and Stoneboat Farm.
We strive for that “Goldilocks”-sized farmers market: large enough to offer a wide selection of quality products, but not so busy and crowded that it makes Saturday morning food shopping stressful. It has been intentionally designed as a gathering place for the community. David Summers, resident of Irvington and longtime Hollywood Farmers Market shopper, comes to the market explicitly “to meet up with friends; every time I go I usually run into 2 or 3 people I know.”
To mark this 20 year milestone, Hollywood Farmers Market will unveil a new logo and signage that represents the unique quality of today’s farmers market experience: a great selection of seasonal produce, meats and cheeses, fabulous prepared dishes, and great local products from tasty sauces and jams to beautiful cut flowers.
Coming up in May, Hollywood Farmers Market events feature something for everyone:
- The beginning of our live music season with blues guitarist James Clem, English folk group Three Pound Note, Darlin’ Blackbirds, and the Horsenecks.
- Great kids activities such as face painting, and on May 14th, a seed planting activity with Joanna Sooper of Turnip the Heat.
- Stacey Givens will conduct a cooking demo on May 7th that highlights her hyper-local cooking philosophy at Side Yard Kitchen and Farm. She will show how to get the most out of an urban garden space by using all parts of the plants in your home garden (or from the great selection of produce at Hollywood Farmers Market!)
- On May 7th and May 14th you can visit the Master Gardeners booth to find out more about growing the plants you love right in your own yard
Check out our web site hollywoodfarmersmarket.org for other upcoming cooking demos, kids’ activities, and other events.
The Hollywood Farmers Market is located on Northeast Hancock Street between 44th and 45th avenues, one block south of Sandy Boulevard. It is open every Saturday from April through Thanksgiving and the first and third Saturdays of the month from December through March. Market hours are 8 a.m.-1 p.m. from April to September and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. from October to March. Dogs are welcome in the Market after 10 a.m. For more information, visit hollywoodfarmersmarket.org.