19 February 2016

Curating a Market + Who’s In & Out This Week

This time of the year is a busy one for PFM staff. Among other activities, we’re accepting new vendors that will help fill the gaps in our markets for 2016, ensuring that we have the right balance of products for the unique needs of each market.

The upcoming season will be my first full year as an employee of Portland Farmers Market. Until I started as Communications Manager in June, I served as a volunteer for three years. During that time, I learned a lot about how the market operated – or so I thought. It turns out that there is so much more to making the markets successful than I had ever imagined.

One of those things is the product jury, the process we use to accept new products into market. Farmers and their produce are exempt from the process but all value-added products and hot food must be approved by our staff.

Yep. You read that right. We get to taste it all.

It’s a fun process but there’s more to it than just trying products and deciding if they taste good. We evaluate every product on a many levels that go beyond taste and even price.

First, there is the matter of sourcing – how much of the product comes from a raw, agricultural product grown or produced here in Oregon, and by our farmers. We are committed to ensuring that all value-added products, such as jams, sauces, fermented foods and others are made using a high percentage of local ingredients.

Then there is presentation – how will the product be sold at market and is it visually appealing? Does it represent the spirit of a farmers market? Is it wasteful? Designed to ensure freshness?

And finally, there is fit. We are committed to ensuring the success of all our vendors so we evaluate every product to determine if it reflects the characteristics of our markets and therefore, will it be successful. A product may be delicious, locally-sourced, and a good value but if it doesn’t fit the market none of those things matter.

So you can be assured that when you visit one of our farmers markets, that every product is there for a reason, and has met certain safety and quality standards. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!

Now, for this week’s lineup of who’s in and who’s out.

We’re inching closer and closer to the full market footprint and spring/summer hours, which begin March 5. For the next two weeks, expect to see the smaller winter market vendors. Last week spring made an appearance with some fresh flowers, which should be there again this week. You’ll find more greens this time of the year, along with the regular root veggies and variety of value-added products normally found at market.

In addition to the list below, this will be Kiyokawa Family Orchards’ last week until cherry season. And, if you missed the news, Two Tarts Bakery owner Elizabeth Beekley is retiring, and Feb. 27 will be her last day. So be sure to stock up on your favorite cookies and redeem those gift cards!

Back this week:

  • Blossom Vinegars
  • Persephone Farm
  • Springbank Farm
  • Sweet Briar Farms

Out this week:

  • Blue Heron Herbary
  • Carman Ranch
  • Mio’s Delectables
  • Prairie Creek
  • Stonebarn Brandyworks
  • Wandering Aengus