Hey Kids! Join the POP Club!

Hey Kids! Join the POP Club!

July 26, 2016 |  by  |  Blog, News  |  No Comments

Kids Club Offers Free $5 Produce Coupons!

Power of Produce (POP) Club is coming to the farmers market this summer! POP Club engages kids in the full market experience, trying new foods, having conversations with farmers, and buying local produce. We’ll have fun FREE activities like farmers market scavenger hunts, recipes, face painting, seed planting kits, and the Two-Bite Challenge, a fruit or veggie tasting designed to expand healthy eating choices.

Each week that kids participate in the club, they will receive a $5 market coupon to spend on the fruit or produce of their choice at the market!

Power of Produce takes place over the next four Sundays: July 24th, 31st, August 7th, and 14th, from 10:00am-2:00pm. There will be a different activity each week, giving kids the opportunity to collect up to $20 in produce coupons for the month!

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Cover photo thanks to MFM volunteer, D.L.Reamer.

Join the MFM Board!

Join the MFM Board!

July 20, 2016 |  by  |  Blog, News  |  No Comments

Our Board of Directors has three vacancies to fill this year and we would love to have you consider joining us!

The Montavilla neighborhood is one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of Portland, and our Farmers Market is right at the heart of it all. If you shop with us you know that it’s one of the best markets in the city, and is growing consistently in both attendance and impact.

We have several current needs: another voice with financial and accounting experience; more help with fundraising; guidance in marketing strategies; support of outreach activities; and assistance with board development and long term planning. We of course also welcome others who are interested in joining, too!

“I love being able to give back to Portland, and to make peoples’ lives better by giving them a place to gather and sell or shop for healthy local food and to create something good in the neighborhood. The market brings everyone closer together, and I think that’s so important. It feels great to be a part of it.” –Rebekah Hubbard, Board Chair, 2014-2015

“There has always been something special for me about farm markets, I love connecting with the folks that grow and produce my food, its empowering, enlightening, and just great fun. Being on the Board helps me connect even more deeply, to get to know the farmers a bit more, and to learn more about what it takes to feed our community well. This board is in a great place right now, and I am very pleased to be a part of it.” –Joe Connell, Vice Chair

“I feel honored to serve on the Board. Being caretakers of the Market, being able to create meaningful change in people’s lives through our SNAP matching program…these are things to feel proud of.” –Kelli Wolford, Treasurer

“On a weekly basis, it’s incredible to see a wide range of hardworking farmers and growers bring their local and healthy fruits and vegetables to a community who is thankful to partake in their effort. MFM is truly one of Portland’s gems and I am lucky to be involved.” —Evan P. Schneider, Board Chair

“Joining the board of the Montavilla Farmers Market has been a great way to get to get involved in my neighborhood. The market is the heartbeat of Montavilla, and as a board member I’ve gotten to know so many new people who are vibrant members of this community. It’s given me the opportunity to volunteer for a cause I love.” –Alison Krieger, Secretary

“Serving on the board of the Montavilla Farmers Market has been a very valuable experience for me.  I am particularly proud of the work that I was able to contribute to expanding our Everybody Eats program, which provides matching funds for SNAP shoppers who shop at the farmers market.  Through this program, not only did I get to help expand access to fresh, local food to more members of the Montavilla community, but I also was able to support the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and producers who sell at our market.  If this type of work excites you, then I highly encourage you to apply for a board position with the Montavilla Farmers Market!” –Erika Takeo, Outreach Chair, 2014-2015

If you would like to talk with us more about joining the Board, please contact Joe Connell at jconnell1102[at]gmail.com!

Meet the Board: Amee Pacheco

Meet the Board: Amee Pacheco

July 15, 2016 |  by  |  News  |  No Comments
Amee grew up in the Montavilla neighborhood, attended Vestal Elementary, and spent quite a bit of time on Stark Street where her dad worked at a bakery. She now lives in North Tabor with her husband and two sons, and still spends quite a bit of time on Stark Street. Amee has worked in the nonprofit development field for nearly a decade, most recently as grants manager for Wild Salmon Center. In her free time she enjoys knitting, yoga, gardening, tending to her flock of backyard hens, and spending as much time as possible on the river–any river. Amee comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers and is passionate about supporting local, sustainable food systems. Say hi next time you see her at the market!
My Afternoon as MFM's Token Master: Reflecting on the value of Double Up Food Bucks  - by Victoria Alvarez

My Afternoon as MFM’s Token Master: Reflecting on the value of Double Up Food Bucks – by Victoria Alvarez

July 8, 2016 |  by  |  Blog, News  |  1 Comment

Late in the morning, on a rainy Sunday, I am strolling down southeast seventy-ninth, heading from Burnside to Stark. The rain is heavy, and I am quickly marching past the older, well-managed homes of the Montavilla neighborhood. I reach the market a few minutes before my volunteer shift as token master is set to begin. Despite the torrential rains, interrupted by periodic breaks of marvelous sunshine, the market is abuzz with patrons. An eclectic mix of Sunday strollers mill about the fresh wares, sampling local honey and Chelan cherries, while the scents and sounds of the vendor stalls fill the air. The peonies are brightly colored, and bundled in bouquets expertly wrapped in crisp, white paper by the couple at Chang’s fresh cut flower stand. Overall, I am impressed by the number of people, although later, Katie, the Montavilla Farmers Market Volunteer & Financial Coordinator, will tell me it is a rather slow event, comparatively.

A few minutes before noon, I approach the information booth. I am a little nervous, as I prepare to meet up with Katie, who is all set up to show me the nuances of Montavilla’s token master position. Katie quickly puts my nerves at ease. She knowledgeably, and skillfully, walks me through the steps in using the market’s card reader to transfer funds from debit and SNAP EBT cards, into token currency redeemable throughout the market. Logs and receipts are kept to track debit and SNAP card purchases and payouts, and the token master is also charged with explaining how the two types of tokens are redeemable throughout the market, in addition to clarifying the nuances of the Double Up Food Bucks program. It is this last point that sparked my interest in conducting my volunteer work with the Montavilla Farmers Market to begin with.

As the mother or a young child, who found myself an unexpectedly unemployed, single mom, the SNAP program has quite literally allowed me to be where I am today. I started working when I was seventeen years old, and never looked back. I worked full time, while putting myself through college (the first time), so the need for public assistance programs was never really on my radar. I knew that when I was young, and my baby sister was born, my fledgling parents struggled, and relied on food stamps, to see us through, but as soon as we were old enough to go to school, my mom went back to work, and we moved on from the program. Now, in order to finish my degree and re-enter the workforce, as well as raise my three-year-old daughter without any family living nearby, working enough hours (hours when I am available, not when I am needed to be available) to support the two of us right now, is a logistic nightmare. Being able to depend on a social safety net, such as the SNAP program, is the hinge point that allows this endeavor to be possible. Knowing that guaranteed funds will be available every month to put food on the table, is a relief that gives me the luxury to complete my higher education journey, and raise a well-fed child.

Knowing just how hard I have to work in order to make the SNAP funds we receive last an entire month, makes me incredibly enthusiastic about what is going on within Portland’s farmers market network. Markets, such as Montavilla, are going out of their way to develop plans that stretch the benefits dispensed to SNAP recipients, while encouraging shoppers to make healthy food choices in spending their benefits on fresh, local produce, as opposed to highly processed, nutritionally deficient foods found in grocery and convenience stores. Speaking with Gretchen Jackson, MFM’s original market manager, who has been involved with the market since co-founding it in 2007, I learned that the Everybody Eats fund has been instrumental in creating a healthier Montavilla community, by working to create a thriving market in the neighborhood. The token redemption system was developed in-house by MFM board members, who were able to solve the problem of redeeming vendors for SNAP purchases via a token currency system.

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This year, expanded funding initiated the Double Up Food Bucks program, which allows markets throughout the state to match SNAP token purchases up to an additional $10. In this way, a SNAP recipient can stretch $10 into $20, just by spending their benefits at a local farmers market. At a time in post-recession America, where more citizens are taking advantage of the need to collect SNAP benefits than many of us realize or care to admit, this is a program that can make a big impact in people’s lives, my own included.

As I spend my two-hour shift familiarizing myself with the token redemption process, I begin to take note of those who come to the information booth to purchase SNAP tokens and receive Double Up Food Bucks. My main observation, is that there is no stereotypical SNAP recipient. I witness single people, couples, and families make SNAP token purchases. Older members of the community, and college students stop by the table. Visitors from multiple ethnic groups and those from, seemingly, various levels of socioeconomic status approach the information booth, with a SNAP EBT card in hand. A mother with her adult son purchases SNAP tokens, as she explains the benefits of the Double Up program to him. Most market-goers know the routine, and those new to the system are especially thrilled when they learn the specific benefits of using their card at the market. Throughout my shift, many of them return to purchase more tokens, even though the additional tokens are not doubled again until their next visit. I am delighted by the energy and joy everyone seems to be displaying at being able to make so many healthy food choices.

As the market comes to an end, Katie shows me how to close up the token master station. I gather my belongings, thank Katie for her time, and begin my journey home. I wait for the bus, thinking about just how lucky we are to live in a society that is funding and supporting local farmers, and citizens wrestling with food insecurity. I recall a piece from the Times, a photojournalism feature from a book by photographer Peter Menzel, entitled Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, that showcases images of families around the world, alongside a week’s worth of their groceries. The disparities in how we access food in this country are vast, but the chasm between the US and the third world is almost unfathomable. As I think about all of the cuts our legislative branch makes to programs such as SNAP, under the claims that these welfare programs incentivize laziness and abuse of funds, I am grateful that I can still put any food at all on my table right now. The mental image of a family living in a refugee camp in Chad, surrounded by barely anything we recognize as sustenance in this country, reminds me that the problems of food insecurity are many, and they are far-reaching. Continuing the conversation, allowing one another to see the situation of food insecurity from a vantage point other than our own, is critical to making sure “Everybody Eats.”

On a Sunday afternoon, in weather nearly forty degrees warmer than two weekends prior, I return to the market for another stint. I need to capture photos, and get clarification on a few points for my final presentation. Even in 100-degree weather, the market is humming. Again, Katie notes that the weather is driving numbers down a bit, but I am impressed by the turnout nonetheless. I have made the decision to volunteer at the market every other Sunday during the summer, and to attend the market on the Sundays in-between with my daughter. There is no way I cannot turn down the opportunity presented by Montavilla to stretch $40 worth of SNAP benefits into $80 worth of fresh, local produce throughout the month. Volunteering also gives me the chance to promote something I feel good about, which, in this day and age, can be a rare opportunity.

As the sun beats down on the glistening Montavilla market-goers, and staff members, I am hopeful about the state of the world for the first time I can remember in a long while. Playing a small role in solving a larger social problem has an energizing effect. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in an education system that sees the value in community activism, and I am thankful for an occasion to take an active part in a cause that means something to me on a personal level. I look forward to a summer of continuing to make a difference in the fight to increase food security for Portlanders.

Volunteer - Victoria Alvarez

Victoria volunteering at the info tent, helping market customers get their tokens and Food Bucks.

 

 

Abundant Fields Farm: Naturally Grown vs. Organic - by Alexa Bell

Abundant Fields Farm: Naturally Grown vs. Organic – by Alexa Bell

June 28, 2016 |  by  |  Blog, News, Vendor Profiles  |  No Comments

In Orient, Oregon, east of Portland and just outside Gresham, is situated a small farm known as Abundant Fields. Run by Rick Reddaway and his family, the farm produces a variety of vegetables to be sold at Montavilla Farmers Market. Upon approaching the cash register at the Abundant Fields tent, customers may notice the sign hung in plain view informing customers that all the produce sold at Abundant Fields is “Certified Naturally Grown.” But what does it actually mean to be certified Naturally Grown? And how does it compare to its more commonly-known alternative, organic certification?

“Certified Naturally Grown” (CNG) is not a label a farm can simply slap on without anything to back it up. There are qualifications that must be met, much like the USDA’s more commonly-known organic program. These guidelines are very similar to the USDA guidelines for organic farms. Certified Naturally Grown farms such as Abundant Fields cannot use any synthetic pesticides or herbicides on their crops. Furthermore, they must utilize sustainable farming practices that conserve both soil and water. Rick fertilizes his crops with compost approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), and utilizes drip irrigation as a watering technique in order to minimize water waste as much as possible.

Despite the major similarities, there are a couple key differences between being Naturally Grown and Certified Organic. For one, Naturally Grown certification is more forgiving of farms that cannot use organic seed one hundred percent of the time. CNG farms are simply expected to follow certification guidelines for growing non-organic seeds. The Naturally Grown certification program also utilizes a greater variety of sources for their yearly inspection – while certified organic farms are only inspected by USDA employees, Certified Naturally Grown farms can be inspected either by fellow CNG farmers, or by customers themselves. Rick has always chosen to have Abundant Fields inspected by other CNG farmers.

In essence, the Certified Naturally Grown program was created as a direct alternative to organic certification for the sake of farms that generally utilize organic methods, but for whom official USDA sanctioning is too impractical and costly. This should not be mistaken to mean that Rick is any less devoted to sustainable practices, however. According to Rick, it “simply makes sense” to grow his crops in the most sustainable and environmentally conscious way possible, regardless of certifications or labels. Despite the unfortunate reality that he must sometimes order regular seeds over organic seeds, he makes a point of ordering organic seed whenever possible, and never purchasing GMO seeds. Furthermore, he hopes to upgrade Abundant Fields’ certification to Certified Organic eventually – the farm’s current certification is a stepping stone to this goal.

The importance of the Certified Naturally Grown program as a cheaper alternative to USDA organic certification cannot be underestimated in light of the fact that many market patrons today expect organic practices from vendors. According to Rick, one of the main reasons he decided to obtain Naturally Grown certification is because he was continuously being asked by customers whether or not his produce was organic. The official endorsement that Naturally-Grown certification provides helps keep the farm competitive and thriving, while also keeping operational costs manageable.

Ultimately, the differences between the USDA organic program and CNG are fairly small. For relatively new farms such as Abundant Fields, the CNG program provides an official guarantee of organic practices that is more practical and affordable than the USDA organic label. However, the USDA Organic label likely has more credence in the eyes of the public, so Rick and other farmers like him strive to develop their farms to the point that USDA Organic certification is a possibility. If we as consumers wish to support Rick and other CNG farms in their efforts to provide the Portland area with the most organic and sustainably-grown produce they can, then we must do our part to keep farms like Abundant Fields operating and growing by purchasing their goods whenever possible and encouraging others to do the same.

Visit the Abundant Fields website at www.AbundantFieldsFarm.com

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Pictures thanks to MFM volunteers, Lisa Sikorski and D.L.Reamer.

Market Shopping Basket - June 19th by Katrina Emery

Market Shopping Basket – June 19th by Katrina Emery

June 23, 2016 |  by  |  Blog, News  |  No Comments

I arrived at the market first thing in the morning, and was immediately smitten with the smells, colors, and mostly the samples, at the market this Sunday. My husband and I both spread out, finding our treasures before combining our haul into a delicious grilled  summer feast that night!

It started with Lamb Merguez, a fresh sausage with North African flavors, from Scratch Meats. At home I added a quick flatbread to the grill (a chapati recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian), then grilled up zucchini from Simplicity Gardens, sprinkled with za’atar seasoning. As a side salad I threw some sautéed Romano beans, also from Simplicity, along with some cherry tomatoes I already had, in a vinaigrette. For dessert, we kept the grill going with huge ripe apricots from Baird Family Orchards, grilled then drizzled with TBees honey in their “mystery” flavor. It’s not actually a mystery, just a delicious mix of pollens instead of one single strain.

With the addition of a jar of Felton and Mary’s Artisan Foods medium barbeque sauce, my bags were filled up, but my coulda shoulda woulda list ran long. A sip of Lion Heart’s kombucha to go with the piles of fresh oysters from Hayes Oyster Company. Chicken from Cerigioli Gardens to be drenched in said barbeque sauce, and some gigantic black radishes from Glasrai Farm on the side. It was all I could do to resist the smells of tamales wafting from Mixteca’s big metal tamaleras.

A few weeks ago I snagged a pepper plant from Lil’ Starts. It’s an heirloom variety called Black Czech, and grows purple black peppers similar to jalapenos. Owner Lillian Klimaszewski gave me some tips for planting and maintenance, and now it’s flowering with tiny purple blooms. Here’s hoping I can keep it alive and thriving!

Lil Starts pepper