Farmers market season is in full bloom in Portland. Featuring seasonal produce, freshly baked breads, honey, local charcuterie, flowers, and more, the city’s markets are spaces where farmers and food producers can connect with the community. And with dozens of markets taking place each week, there are plenty of chances to get outside and see what local Northwest food producers have to offer. Here’s just a few (of many) reasons to love Portland’s markets – and some tips on how to make the most of them on a budget.
1. The Samples
SO. MANY. SAMPLES. Go hungry, and try everything. From apples to artisan chocolates to locally made nut butters, there’s plenty of delicious free fun to be had just walking from booth to booth. Tip: check out Packer Orchards’ jam station at the PSU Saturday Market. Marionberry jalapeno is highly recommended.
2. The Outdoor (and Sustainable) Communal Shopping Atmosphere
You could pick up spinach from the grocery store – or you could spend a weekend morning chatting with local farmers about what’s in season and catching up with neighbors while sampling fruit under a canopy of trees. I’ll choose the latter.
3. The Ability to Buy As Much or As Little As You Want
Want three apples and 15 cherries? No problem. Many vendors price bulk foods by weight, so if you can’t resist a small snack you can treat yourself without feeling guilty or overspending.
4. The Economics
You’ll get more bang for your (mostly organic) buck at farmers markets. The superior caliber of the produce and other products at these venues is undeniable. Local farm offerings of the same quality would sell for more in grocery stores anyway – with overhead costs and markup – so it’s really a win/win for you and your local food providers!
5. The Flowers
The vibrant pops of color you’ll see at floral stands throughout the markets are a great way to brighten up your home. Prices and sizes range from small $5 bundles to elegant $30 centerpieces. Good news: there’s no wrong choice to be had here.
6. The Entertainment
As if all of this – quality produce, connecting with local farmers, flower-mania and beyond – isn’t enough, many local farmers markets also offer live music to enjoy while you browse, sample, and commune with your neighbors. Heavenly!
7. The Treats for Later
If there’s no room left in your stomach after all the jams and cheeses you’ve just sampled, that’s okay. It happens to the best of us. Fortunately, many items can be boxed up and taken home to enjoy later – like this salted honey pie from Lauretta Jean’s (another PSU Saturday Market staple).
And if there’s still something you forgot to pick up, that’s okay too. There’s always next week’s market.