May 24th, 2012 | Kimberly Hursh Food & Drink | Posted In: Market Watch

Market Watch: Enslaved by the Bell at Shemanski Park

treeDeNoble's Farms vendor Patreece gets creative, building a table to fit around the tree growing in her square of sidewalk. - Kimberly Hursh

The scene at the farmers market starts long before the crowds show up.

On a sunny Wednesday morning, vendors at the Shemanski Park farmers market are setting up during the hour before opening, deftly arranging their fruits and vegetables into artistic displays and chatting among themselves.

A bit over-excited for my first go at beat reporting, I arrive long before the market opens. It's not a problem, though. At 9:30 am, the market is calm, the sun is warm and the vendors have an extra five minutes to talk about their wares and their family's long history in Oregon. Linger long enough by their baskets and they'll get around to your family history, too.

The vendors are generally so friendly, that it's surprising to see Sun Gold Farm's Chris Hertel turn a customer away. The customer is surprised too, and walks away in a huff, muttering something about the customer always being right. Chris shrugs. He can't sell until the market officially opens.

He has to wait for the bell. It's the rule. 

The bell rule adds a little excitement. And it's classier than a bunch of pick-ups dropping off their goods to an eager swarm of people buying them right off the tailgate. It feels like something out of the opening scene of My Fair Lady, perfectly suiting this put-together market. As part of the Portland Famers Market, Shemanski Park is neater and tidier than most unaffiliated markets. The rules help that image along. 

At precisely 10 am, the bell rings. To my delight, a slight cheer rises up from the sellers. They are now open for business. And business is good. 

The vendor at Suzanne's Chocolaterie beams when a customer she had to turn away 5 minutes ago shows up just seconds after the bell, looking to buy. 

"You came back!" she says, wrapping up his purchase. She looks triumphantly to the vendor at Olympic Provisions.

"Haha, sold before you!" she teases. 

Location: SW Park Ave & SW Salmon St. 
Time: Wednesdays, May 2 through Oct. 31.10 am – 2 pm.
The crowd: Shemanski Park draws a lunch-time rush and is patronized by local chefs, the older set and school groups field-tripping it at the Schnitz. 
Senior sellers: Sun Gold Farms 
Freshman sellers: Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese
Highlight: Divine Pies are gluten, dairy and sugar free, yet manage to be full of taste, incorporating unexpected ingredients like dates, almonds and avocados. 
Food carts on site: Tastebuds, Hoda's Middle Eastern Cuisine 
Coffee availability: Nite Owl Roasters 
Dog friendly: No
Parking: Limited, even vendors struggle to find a spot. 
 
For more information click here.
 
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