For cooks too lazy or landless to grow their own food, community-supported agriculture is the easiest and most economical way to ensure you always have fresh produce on hand. CSAs are farms with subscription programs: Members pay a flat fee at the beginning of the year and get weekly deliveries of whatever’s in season. Some run nearly year-round. Most require members to pick up their shares at a central drop point, but some deliver. I can personally vouch for the quality of Sauvie Island Organics, $920 a year for a 28-week, four-person share), but there are more than 90 CSAs in the Portland area. For a comprehensive list, including reviews, visit localharvest.org. Before you plunk down your fee, though, ask for references—you don’t want to sign up with a farm that will quit halfway through the season.
There are dozens of farms within 30 minutes of Portland where you can pick your own berries, peaches, apples, flowers and even vegetables for significantly cheaper than retail. I like Sauvie Island Farms (19818 NW Sauvie Island Road) for berries and the farther out but nonetheless very worthwhile Draper Girls Country Farm (6200 Highway 35, Parkdale) for apples and cherries. There’s a frequently updated, comprehensive list of U-pick and farmstands at Pick Your Own, Blake Slemmer’s wonderful, international website.
Hunt and Gather
Wild Food Adventures teaches classes on foraging for wild edible plants, fungi and small animals, mostly around the Pacific Northwest, and the Oregon Mycological Society runs mushroom-hunting field trips for members all season long. For larger game, hit up the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, whose hunting and fishing classes will have you bringing home the elk bacon in no time. If you’re looking for wild food in your own backyard, check out urbanedibles.org, a user-created database of easily accessible herbs, edible weeds and fruit and nut trees in Portland.
Slow Food Portland organizes delightful classes, tastings and dinners featuring local, sustainable foods. Plate & Pitchfork shows you where your food comes from and then feeds you at lavish dinners cooked and served at local farms, and founder Erika Polmar’s new series, ForkLift, does the same in the city’s bakeries, distilleries and roasteries. Stumptown Coffee’s Belmont Street Annex will give you a crash course in coffee appreciation at daily tastings (noon and 2 pm daily at 3352 SE Belmont St., 467-4123). Zenger Farm will take you on a farm field trip. Portland Fruit Tree Project organizes harvesting parties to reap the produce of neglected fruit trees. Portland Food Adventures partners with local chefs to host group dinners and send diners home with coupons for the chefs’ favorite coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Forktown Food Tours runs food-focused walking tours of Portland neighborhoods. Several companies run beer tours; among them are Brewvana and Pedal Bike Tours. The Portland Oregon Visitors Association maintains a list of other culinary tours, mostly of the wine country. Portland Eats Out offers discounts to members who eat at participating restaurants on weeknights, and 10 percent of membership fees benefit the Oregon Food Bank.