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Holiday Gifts
From the Market

Looking for great holiday gift ideas?  The market is brimming with exceptional items that highlight the unique character and flavors of the Northwest.

Stop by the Seely Family Farm booth to pick up minty fresh gifts such as tea, soap and chocolates.  Their pure mint oils also make a heavenly addition to holiday cookies and candies.

Pick up thoughtfully prepared gift baskets from Zoe's Favorites Pickles & Preserves or Rogue Creamery, or consider creating  your own basket filled with market goodies such as apples, pears, nuts, jams, pickles, cheeses, honey, chocolates and more!

Raynblest Farm is the ultimate source for divinely scented natural beeswax candles and Rick Steffen Farm and
Vicki’s @ Sungold are just two of the vendors that feature beautiful wreaths, centerpieces and other holiday decor.

If you are a purist, stop by Freddy Guys for hazelnut-centric gift baskets or visit TWIST Wine Company's booth for a special holiday gift pack (20% off the total when purchased as a sixer).

Whether you are looking for home decor, stocking stuffers, hostess gifts or holiday treats, you are sure to find something special at the market.
 


2009 Season Highlights

Over 620,000 shoppers visited our five markets

Nearly $6 million in sales for our vendors

EBT customers bought over $77,000 of fresh food (up 120 % from last year)

The King Market’s Foodshare Fund Northeast distributed $3,900 to neighborhood residents



Solstice Market
Saturday, December 19
9:00am - 2:00pm
Bundle up and join us for the last market of the year.  It's your final chance to stock up for the winter and bid adieu to the smiling faces behind your favorite booths.

Opening Day 2010
Saturday, March 20
8:30am - 2:00pm
Mark your calendars!
The Market will return in all of its colorful glory on the first day of Spring 2010.

MARKET
CALENDAR

 




Cabbages
Oregon Wines
Fresh Crab
Smoked & Fresh Salmon
Myriad Potatoes
Soup!
Winter Squash
Fine Chocolates
Holiday Décor
Pastured Lamb, Pork, Beef, Chicken & Goat
Oregon & Washington Cheeses
Apples & Pears
Oregon Truffles
Walnuts & Hazelnuts
Fresh & Hard Cider
Varietal Honey
Jams & Jellies
Pickles!

SEASONALITY
CALENDAR




Letter from the Executive Director


The end of the 2009 season is rapidly approaching and as I reflect back over my first full season as the Executive Director of Portland Farmers Market, it is a bittersweet moment.  This has been a season full of both challenges and accomplishments and I am sad to see it come to a close.  I realize though that this is the natural rhythm of the seasons and winter marks a time to slow down, conserve energy, and hibernate.  That is, for most people anyway. 

While we are bundled up in our homes waiting out the cold spell, farmers are up in the wee hours of the morning attending to livestock, checking diligently over their remaining crops and contemplating when to harvest. Harvesting is always a difficult job but when it is below freezing outside it adds a whole new layer of complexity. Frozen hands and bodies just do not work well in the cold and the frozen earth and plants do not help matters much.

The trials and tribulations each farmer faces every day are indescribable. Not only do they have to contend with Mother Nature, they also have to deal with running a small business that is more complex than we can ever imagine.  And yet each week for 40 weeks they deliver the most incredible food items to the market. Last week I was amazed to see the varieties of lettuce, greens, fruits, and even a few peppers that brightened vendors’ booths. All I can say is that we are so blessed to be surrounded by such dedicated individuals who bring the stunning bounty of the region to our markets each week.

To me food is so personal and always has been. Not only do I love to eat, but I would probably say that food is my life.  I derive such pleasure from the act of growing, cooking and eating food that it saddens me to see how in today’s society we have made preparing and consuming food into a chore that is almost devoid of any pleasure. Shoppers may be overwhelmed by what fresh produce to choose or have little skill on how to prepare it. They see the evening meal as drudgery and not a luxury, so too often they pick up something prepared or overly processed.

How do we incorporate the pleasure of eating into this routine? I do not know the perfect answer, but what I do know is that there is no greater experience than eating something as simple and divine as a tender green shoot of asparagus in spring, a luscious, juicy peach in summer, or the sweet, dense flesh of winter squash when temperatures begin to drop.  The pleasures of eating seasonal food at peak ripeness are so obvious, they cannot be denied.  Therefore, I believe that if we truly want a sustainable food system in our community our citizens will need to engage not only with their intellects but with their taste buds.

Thank you for making this season an extraordinary one.  I can’t wait to see what next year will bring.  I look forward to seeing familiar faces at the market next year, as well as some new ones.  And I hope you come hungry.

Until next season,
Ann
 





Cracking the Egg

Why Eggs Cost More at the Farmers Market

At Portland Farmers Market we like to think we have something to offer everyone, from an impressive array of the best quality produce and products from regional farmers and food producers, to entertainment, educational classes and events and programs that celebrate all things local and seasonal. Judging by the wonderful comments we receive from shoppers, visitors and the media (including ranking our market #1 in the nation and the world!) it appears many people agree.  

Amid all of this positive feedback though, we have noticed a growing concern about prices at our markets.  Shoppers are more price conscious than ever and many find themselves on a more limited food budget.  Although many items can be purchased at our markets for a bargain at the height of the season when the supply is plentiful, it is also true that there will be some cases in which the farmers at our markets will not be able to compete with the prices at your local grocery store.  One such item is eggs, which generally cost between $5 to $7 per dozen.  Shoppers want to know:

Why do eggs purchased at the market cost more than the eggs in the grocery store?

The answer to this question is multifaceted and takes into consideration a variety of factors such as labor, farm and marketing costs in addition to production practices such as the care, feeding and housing of the birds.  Below we have outlined some the ways small family farms differ from larger commercial facilities.

Animal Welfare

At the most basic level, one could say that the lower price of eggs at the grocery store is often at the expense of the hens themselves.  To increase production, conventional factory farms often keep their hens in battery cages and may engage in practices such as beak cutting and forced molting through starvation.  For those interested in learning more about standards in egg production, we recommended that you read this recent article in The Oregonian which aims to demystify the claims found on egg cartons, from free-range to organic to certified humane.

Unlike eggs that come from large commercial facilities, the eggs at our markets come from small family farms that believe in the health and welfare of their hens.  Instead of keeping them in small cages, many of our vendors utilize mobile pasture based systems that allow their hens access to fresh pasture. 

PFM vendor Jeff Falen of Persephone Farm (a certified organic farm in Lebanon, OR) explains, “Whereas the yard around a permanently located coop would turn to a mud yard devoid of nutrition, our mobile coop allows us to move our flock onto new ground alive with grass, clover, and bugs.”

Eggs found at the supermarket labeled “free-range” come from uncaged hens, though outdoor access is not required.  Even “certified organic” eggs from the store do not have standards for the amount, duration and quality of outdoor access.  There is currently a proposal in the works that will require a minimum amount of outdoor space of around two square feet per bird, but Falen says, “Chickens will denude an area this small in no time at all.  We provide our birds with 50-100 square feet per bird…and they still eat or scratch up much of the vegetation in a few weeks time.  Additionally, the organic standards do not require that chickens have access to pasture.”

Falen goes on to say, “Those of us who are providing ample pasture for our birds incur substantially higher production costs than those who don’t, especially for the labor required to tend birds that may be in a remote pasture as well as to move them to fresh pasture periodically.  We believe our system creates a healthier hen and thereby, a healthier egg.”

Quality

Studies suggest that pasture-raised hens create more nutritious eggs.  PFM vendor Wes Coulter of Champoeg Organic Eggs (a small, local organic egg farm in Aurora, OR) also employs mobile coops that are either on wheels or wooden skids and can be moved by a small tractor.  He moves the coops about once a week, often camping nearby to ward off would-be predators.  Although this system is more work than a permanent coop, he believes it is worth the effort and that the proof is in the eggs.  “My hens are exposed to things like bugs, grass, and other natural vegetation, which they consume, digest, and put into their eggs, giving them added nutritional value in the form of Omega-3's, good cholesterol, and whatever else those darker yolks and firmer whites contain.”

Another consideration is the freshness of the eggs.  Says Coulter, “From a value standpoint, the eggs at the farmers' market are of much higher quality than factory eggs.  In general it takes two to three weeks for factory eggs to reach the supermarket shelf for distribution to the consumer.  My eggs are, at the oldest, four days before they are distributed to the consumer, and a good portion of my customers leave the market carrying eggs that were laid the day before.”

Natural Yield


During the winter months, hens instinctively begin to lay fewer eggs in order to conserve energy, body heat and nutrient reserves for their annual molting process.  Many commercial facilities circumvent this natural process in order to keep their annual yield of eggs high and their production costs low.  Artificial lighting is employed to fool the hen’s physiology into thinking that winter has not yet arrived.

At Persephone Farm, Falen believes in letting nature take its course.  “In accordance with our commitment to seasonal produce, we have chosen to let our hens lay according to the natural rhythm of the seasons.  Without a light on in the coop their bodies can do what is necessary to maintain good health without the stress of heavy laying when they aren’t meant to be doing so.”

In addition, at small family farms where production levels are not the most important factor, hens are often kept longer.  Coulter  explains, “In factory farms--and this includes "organic" operations--hens are only kept alive while they are most productive and are culled at the age of one and half.  Smaller farms tend to keep their hens around longer, up to four years or even longer.  This means that small farms, in general, are working with hens that are significantly less efficient than their factory relatives.”

Production Costs


There are a variety of additional ways larger factory operations can keep production costs down that simply aren’t an option for smaller farms.  For example, they are able to get feed (organic or non-organic) much cheaper through volume discounts, whereas smaller operations pay close to retail for the same feed.

There is also the issue of mechanization.  Says Falen, “Most commercial egg operations (organic or non-organic) reside in permanent buildings, allowing for mechanization.  Feed and water are automatically provided and eggs may be mechanically collected.  We greatly appreciate the labor saving aspects of mechanization, but our mobile coop does not lend itself well to this process.  We pay for mobility with greater labor costs incurred in hauling feed to our birds, collecting their eggs by hand, opening the coop in the morning, and closing the coop at night for protection from predators.”

Falen also put together this great chart which outlines the costs associated with producing a dozen eggs at Persephone Farm:


Total direct production costs                                  $5.08/dozen

Contribution to farm overhead                               $0.97/dozen
(rent, buildings, utilities, interest, etc.)    
 
28% marketing fee (transportation to                    $2.35/dozen
market, farmers market fee, farmstand labor)   
   
Total cost of production and marketing                 $8.40/dozen


By this point, many of you are probably wondering, “Why would they sell eggs at a loss?”

To this question Falen responds, “Because our hens pay their keep in ways that are difficult to quantify.  They add fertility to the soil, eat bugs and snap up weed seeds laying on the soil surface. They bring precious balance to a farm that is dominated by plants, helping us approximate the diversity found in a natural ecosystem.”

We would like to thank Falen, Coulter and our other egg vendors for sharing their insights into the world of egg production and for bringing their wonderful farm-fresh eggs to market each week. 

When making the decision on how to best budget your food dollars, it is our hope that you take into consideration the unique experiences that shopping at your local farmers market can provide:  the opportunity to meet your neighbors and grow community, the satisfaction of knowing that more of your dollar goes directly to your local farmer and local economy, and the chance to purchase the freshest, healthiest food directly from the person who grew or produced it with care, commitment and compassion.

--Mona Johnson
 

 


Winter Solstice Market
Sadly, it is true.  The 2009 season is winding down and the last market of the year will be held on Saturday, December 19th, right before the Winter Solstice.  Come stock your larder one last time and say farewell to your favorite farmers until next season.  Thank you to all our vendors and shoppers for making 2009 a season to remember.  See you next year on March 20th at the Saturday PSU Market for opening day!

Follow PFM on Facebook and Twitter
Want to receive up-to-the minute news about what's happening at the market, such as which vendor has the ripest tomato or the sweetest figs, who is running a special on Dungeness Crab or which local chef is teaching shoppers to handmade pizza with arugula pesto?  Follow PFM on Facebook or Twitter and become part of our community.




How can a tree be MORE green?
Order a locally grown Christmas tree from Portland collective TreesByBike.com this year and not only will your tree be delivered to your door by bike, but 10% of your order total will be donated to a charity, foundation or group designated by your personal "Rider of Yule".




Thank You 2009 PFM Sponsors

PFM is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization that does not receive any outside funding from government entities or foundations.  About 90% of our costs are covered by vendor fees, while the remaining 10% is obtained through fundraising and sponsorships.

It is because of the generous sponsorships from the companies listed below that PFM is able to offer the many community-building events, programs and classes that educate and entertain shoppers and visitors to our markets.  Offerings such as Market Music, Chef in the Market, Kids Cook at the Market, Preserving Classes, Get Growing Month, The Great Pumpkin Event and other market festivals would not be possible without their vital support.

PFM would like to thank its 2009 sponsors for their valuable contributions, for being great friends of the market, and for their support of local, sustainable agriculture.  We could not do what we do without them!

SEASON SPONSORS





EASTBANK AND KING MARKET SPONSOR



ECOTRUST MARKET SPONSOR



GREEN MARKET SPONSOR


CHEF IN THE MARKET SPONSOR

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