14 June 2010

5 Questions for PFM's Anna Curtin

So what do you do for the Market and how is it you came to be there?

I began volunteering for PFM not too long after arriving in Portland [in 1999] and joined the staff full time in September, 2007. My official title is “Education & Events Specialist”. I spearhead our educational programming like Kids Cook in the Market classes and on-site recipe sampling as well as community outreach efforts.

A lot of people don’t think the love of fresh vegetables and basketball go together and they’re wrong. How are our beloved Blazers involved with the Market and who is your favorite Blazer?

L to R: Amber=Strawberry; Anna=Tomato

Portland Trail Blazers are one of the founding sponsors of Fresh Exchange, our “market money” matching program for SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) recipients who shop our Buckman Market in southeast Portland. The Blazers’ support demonstrates the organization’s commitment to make it better in the communities in which they live, work and play. [Secondly], that would assume I know the names of the players but I like the tall one.

Using as few of words as possible, explain Fresh Exchange and Foodshare Fund Northeast.

Foodshare Fund Northeast [along with] Fresh Exchange are programs that provide a dollar for dollar match for EBT cardholders who shop our markets.

Foodshare Fund Northeast offers up to a $10 match and is specific to the King Market in northeast Portland. The funds are managed exclusively by volunteers and require ongoing financial contributions to ensure a solid endowment into the future. Area businesses such as Alberta Co-op Grocery have generously donated funds to the program and our July 4th Build-a-Burger fundraiser at the King Market will also benefit Foodshare Fund Northeast.

Fresh Exchange offers up to a $5 match and is specific to the Buckman Market in southeast Portland. It too is managed by committed volunteers and funded solely by local individuals and businesses, including founding support from the Portland Trail Blazers, Wells Fargo, and Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf, P.C. We solicit funds at the market, every first Friday of the month at Burgerville Hawthorne and through monthly garden workshops at the Buckman Market (more info here)

Food insecurity is a major issue in Oregon, what does that mean at Farmers Markets.

1 in 6 Oregonians receive SNAP benefits and Oregon ranks number two in the nation for the number of citizens who are food insecure (oregonhunger.org). That means a record number of our neighbors are hungry for real food. Our markets serve as community gathering places where everyone is welcome, not just those who can easily afford farm-fresh produce. The matching programs better enable us to reach those who may not otherwise be able to do their grocery shopping at farmer’s markets due to competing demands on the food budget.

Personal favorite thing you grow in your garden?

If I had more success with them, my first choice would be sugar snap peas. Since my garden apparently hates sugar snap peas, I’ll say it’s a tie between potatoes and the alliums (specifically, bunching onions and leeks). While those don’t sound like exotic choices, they have extraordinary flowers and ask so little of my time and effort for the harvest rewards.