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Compare & Contrast: Portland's various farmer's markets

The growing season is here!  And, farmer's markets will soon be in full swing.  Portland Farmers Market is the big daddy of markets around here.  In ther 9th year, they have grown to a location on every single day of the week: Saturday at PSU (the OG), Sundays at King School, Mondays/Tuesdays/Thursdyas at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Wednesdays in the lower South Park Blocks, Thursdays at Buckman and in NW (EcoTrust bldg parking lot).  I guess nothing queued up for Fridays.

There are many, many  more markets beyond these main ones.  OEC has a comprehensive listing of Portland-area farmers markets: Tigard, Beaverton, Interstate, Lents, Montavilla, Hollywood, Hillsdale, Lloyd, OHSU, Moreland, Parkrose.  There are so many to chose from; it's a little dizzying.

An urbanMama recently emailed:

I know lots of the area farmer's markets are starting back up and I would love to hear people's thoughts about the different ones, i.e., price differences between them, quality and diversity of the vendors and items offered for sale, etc. I am familiar with the big one downtown, and the one in Hollywood, and I have to say that they have started to seem pretty expensive in the past few years. Are any of the other ones (Lents, Montavilla, Beaverton) any less expensive?

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I haven't been to them all but I find I like Beaverton one best. There's more than forty vendors.. and it has music and fountain at the adjoining park for the kids to play in on a sunny/warm. The playground was really a bonus. And there's a cookie lady my kids always have to have a snickerdoodle from.

Hillsdale is delightful but small. Sometimes only a dozen vendors. This is lovely if you've planned brunch or errands at the nearby shops but inadequate for a long list of needs.

I dislike the PSU one most of those I've been to. There's no parking and no elbow room. Many vendors and good hot food but so many people in such a little space. Not for the claustrophobic. Then don't forget to mention the folks who think the "dogs on leash" sign must not apply to their sweet dog.

Milwaukie is lovely. I really like the knife sharpening guy out there and there's a good set of vendors. A big pizza house and a comic store in the nearby shops make this a good field trip, too.

My family likes the farmer's market in downtown Vancouver. There is a good selection of vendors, live music, and and an adjacent playground. The aisles between vendors are wide enough that we can easily navigate them while pulling our daughter in her wagon. And parking is a breeze. It's by donation and the lot is right next to the market. I think the prices on produce are comparable to the Portland farmer's markets (on the spendy side), but the flower arrangements are much cheaper (gorgeous bouquets for $10 to $15).

I haven't been to very many, but we really like Gresham's market. It's fairly large and has good parking options. I don't really know how it compares in prices though.

We LOVE the Interstate market in nopo, across from Kaiser. It's a relatively small market but there's still a good variety of vendors selling at fair prices. It's open on Wednesday afternoons (3-7?) which is perfect for when I get off of work and pick up our daughter - we go straight to the market! It's right at Overlook park so there are great shady spots under the huge trees for snack time, a great playground, and lots of running around space. Easy parking, too.

I want to love the Interstate Market, but I just can't. I've watched the vendors shrink every year and just find it isn't good for a full market trip. The atmosphere is great, but the market itself just isn't. I enjoy the one on Alberta and in Vancouver, but they feel very crowded to me.

I have a theory about the markets. I think these smaller markets just can't compete with the Portland Farmer's Market markets. The large farmers have their pick of days to participate and a guaranteed crowd because of the infrastructure already in place with PFM, and so they don't really need to take a chance on the smaller, newer, independent markets. I think that has also brought prices up, in addition to other costs the farmers are facing in growing the food. I've almost begun to view PFM markets as ones I try to avoid, so I would love to hear reasons why my theory won't hold water.

We love the King Farmer's Market on Sundays from 10-2 at King Elementary School on 7th Ave, between Alberta and Prescott in NE PDX. It's small and sweet, great for families. We always find all of the produce we are looking for. We love the fact that we can ride our bikes there or walk. It's a great community market. Plus, there is a playground too for the kiddos.

The Thursday NW Portland Farmers Market is no longer at EcoTrust and has moved a couple of time since. It is now located in a parking lot at NW 19th and Everett.

Portland Farmers Market is actually in its 20th year, with a community celebration planned for Saturday, June 18 at 11 a.m. at the Portland State University market location! They've come a long ways since their first market next to Albers Mill.

The Westmoreland farmer's market has a good selection of fruits, veggies, and dessert, and usually has live music as well. It's open from 3:30 to 7 (I think) on Wednesday, at Bybee and 14th in SE Portland.

Although we tend to go to the Hollywood market (an easy bike ride), I still like the downtown PSU market a lot, for the general bustle and people-watching, and the Simon Benson house porch to reconnoiter on. I especially appreciate that last year they banned dogs from the market. It's been a great improvement.

For those farther out on the eastside, the Parkrose Market is a nice one (it's in the parking lot of the high school on NE Shaver & 115th). The market is small, but even early in the season I've been able to get plenty of fresh vegetables, eggs, honey, bread, and hopefully soon there will be berries. The prices seem more affordable than the downtown markets I've attended. They also have Romanian fried bread for $2 which was quite good.

I'm a SE PDXer with another vote for the Vancouver Farmer's Market! Good selection (though small -- but all the veggies, flowers, handmade goods, etc) -- without the astronomically high prices of Portland's sacred cow. It has the intimate, authentic farmer's market feel that is now so sadly missing from PDX downtown. And it's right next to the very pretty Esther Short park and playground. Right on the other side of the I-5 bridge ... the 'Couv abides. ;-)

My husband and I have gone to the Beaverton Farmer's Market for the past few years and have loved it... recently we visited the PSU one and found it to be super interesting and fun but, also more expensive and with a lot less choice than the Beaverton market. For example... one of the places that we visited had a dozen eggs for $6.25 (and that was for medium sized eggs) while at the Beaverton Market we get a dozen BEAUTIFUL eggs for $5 a carton. While it is still a lot of money to be putting down on eggs I couldn't see the difference in the eggs between the two shops but, I can see the difference between these eggs and those in a supermarket.

We will visit the PSU one again but mainly for the fun atmosphere and not for the food shopping. It was certainly more eclectic and less formal feeling than the Beaverton location. But, for food shopping I'd go with Beaverton. The prices are reasonable and the choices are varied!

When we lived in NE we really liked the Vancouver one as well. Got what we needed at a good price, plus easy parking, water feature and park. Now we are in SW and like Hillsdale and Beaverton. Hillsdale is next to a play area - small, but you can get what you need and seems to have more prepared food for lunch/brunch. Beaverton has it all - easy parking, lots of vendors, good prices, play structure, water feature, grassy area, library and lots of options for lunch.

I use the Hollywood Farmer's Market, just based on proximity to my home and the fact that it's Saturday mornings (when I don't work.) At least the first hour (8-9am) and maybe longer, they don't allow dogs (honestly, I wish they'd ban them all together.) Plus I get to buy wine from my daughter's math teacher! I always hit it before the dogs and strollers and chatty folks who block the walkways descend.

We usually go to the King Farmer's Market because it's a couple blocks from our house and can't beat that, but it is expensive (whole foods prices) and limited. I'd like to check out the Beaverton Market. I like the one at PSU but again it is spendy and claustrophobic.

I used to love the PSU market because of the range and the shade from the trees, but I haven't gone since they banned dogs. I don't bring a dog, but I like watching them and petting them and so does my child - it's a big reason that the market is more fun than a grocery store. Also at PSU you are dealing with a lot of tourists and scene-sters who don't seem to be there for groceries, but for coffee and samples and long chats right in the middle of the walkways. Hollywood is closer to my house, but zero shade. King has great quality and it's usually not too claustrophobic.

SE Woodstock is opening the first annual market on Sunday, June 26th, and it will be a big family event, with ponies, the Alphabeticians, and a very local feel. 40 vendors, though, so good enough size to actually get to buy things. :). www.woodstockmarketpdx.com

Vancouver Farmer's Market - Sat and Sun. It is probably the largest in the area. Great plant selections. Yummy food. Can't miss it!

Don't forget about Montavilla Farmers Market too!

www.montavillamarket.org

Sunday's 10 - 2
7600 block of SE Stark, 97215

Community run and super fun.

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