20 November 2012

How Portland Farmers Market Selects Hot Food and Food Artisan Vendors

At each of our eight Portland Farmers Market locations, we strive to create a well-rounded and lively mix of vendors and products.  We are so proud of the many farmers and food artisans in our region offering high-quality fresh and prepared foods; they are truly what make our markets world class.

With so many creative businesses coming to life in Portland and so many food-loving Portlanders, we have a lot of interest from prospective vendors each season.  In order for our small staff to manage all of these requests, we open the door once a year to peek at the fresh ideas flowing in from the food community.

This is the time of year when we renew agreements with our current vendors and seek to add new ones.  If you or someone you know is hoping to become a vendor at our markets, now is the time to put that business plan into action!

Part of our mission is to contribute to the success of local food growers and producers.  We also strive to help incubate new food businesses.  We bring these two goals together with the standards we desire from our food artisan community.  For businesses that source raw ingredients to create a finished product, such as baked goods, jams, jellies, pickles or hot food, we have laid out some specific criteria below to help explain what we are looking for:

  • Products that are unique, creative, delicious, locally crafted, and locally sourced.  This means that the primary ingredients are grown and/or raised within the Pacific Northwest.
  • All or most ingredients are sourced from regional farmers, ranchers, foragers and/or fishermen, ideally Portland Farmers Market vendors. Please visit our website, portlandfarmersmarket.org, for a list of our current vendors.
  • Although there are exceptions made for ingredients sourced outside of our food shed (such as salt, olive oil, and sugar), we are always impressed when alternatives are used in order to keep the product as local as possible.

With these standards in mind, we challenge food entrepreneurs to seek out connections within the community, to build relationships with farmers, to create successful business models and ensure a sustainable future for local farms.

Businesses with products that hold up to these standards are invited to complete a Vendor Interest Form, which can be found here.  This form is the preliminary step in the process to becoming a vendor.  It provides us with a brief introduction to a business’s practices, products and other details that highlight creativity and a commitment to local sourcing.

Keep in mind that we operate eight different market locations of varying sizes throughout Portland.  The Saturday PSU Market garners a great deal of interest but we do not guarantee space for new vendors at that location.  We encourage businesses to consider all of the markets within our program before making a decision to submit an application.  To learn more, please download our Prospective Vendor Manual.

After reviewing a Vendor Interest Form, we will let that business know within 10 business days whether or not our markets may be the right fit for them.  If so, we send a follow up email in January with links to a full application which must be completed for the upcoming season.

The final step in this process is to submit product samples to be juried by a panel designated by Portland Farmers Market, which may include staff, board members, vendors, volunteers and other friends of the market.   This is when creative food entrepreneurs have the opportunity to show off their craft and for us to get the full experience of their product.  Final new vendor selections are made in February.

We look forward to being amazed by what our local food community has to offer!