John Eveland and Sally Brewer, husband and wife owners of Gathering Together Farm, first started with Portland Farmers Market soon after it moved to the Portland State University campus in 1998. At first John operated under one small tent with his daughter and two employees. Now, 20 years later, the Gathering Together stand serves an anchor on the SE corner of the PSU market, with a larger footprint and eight employees.
John estimates their business has quadrupled in sales since those early days. One of the main factors that has fueled their growth in recent years is sales to Portland-based restaurants, an offspring of connections generated from participation at both the Wednesday Shemanski Park Market and the Saturday PSU market.
“Connections with local restaurants has not only increased our sales, but also helped build relationships with new customers,” explains John. “It’s become a symbiotic relationship. Restaurants who buy from us often list our farm on their menus, and as a result, their customers recognize our farm’s name when they shop at the farmers market.”
What John loves most about selling at farmers markets is interacting with the customers, particularly at PSU where their sampling table is a popular attraction. “There’s nothing better than cooking up food, handing out samples, and talking to people about good food and ways to prepare it,” he says. “Even as sophisticated as Portland palettes can be, it’s always fun to introduce shoppers to new tastes.”
Based in Philomath, OR (about 90 miles south of Portland), Gathering Together grows a diverse selection of certified organic produce. What started as a small farm has expanded to 50+ acres, producing about 50 different types of vegetables annually in over 300 different varieties. On-site is a farm stand and restaurant showcasing seasonal bounty along with fresh-baked pastries and breads. The Farm also operates a CSA program from June to November, with 12 different pick-up locations, including six in the Portland area.