There are two good reasons to swing by the People's Co-op Farmers Market in Southeast Portland. The first is homegrown. The second is Hungarian.
Reason number one is rhubarb—a little-understood
vegetable fruit plant that's in season right now (look for freshly cut stalks to be firm and glossy) filling the stalls at farmers markets across the city. However, it is only at the Co-op where you will find the locally famous rhubarb pies from This n' That Urban Farm.
The pies are made by the This n' That owner, but in a cross-vendor effort, the rhubarb is from Greenville Farms, just a couple stands down. It's a very happy union of fruits and labor. The pastry is flaky and buttery but light on the sugar, allowing the full, tangy flavor of the rhubarb to come through.
The second reason to visit the Co-op is an endlessly interesting Hungarian expat named Tibor Szaiko. Tibor came to the United States with a deep-seated dislike of communists, a ruddy face and the name of the tank he drove in the Hungarian army tattooed on his right forearm. These days, he's selling Street Roots.
The paper's vendors make their own routes, and Tibor has made the Co-op a part of his rounds ever since he moved here from Seattle a year ago. He likes the Co-op because it's small and friendly, and indeed, he has found friends (and regular customers) at the market. In fact, Tibor remarks proudly that if he doesn't stop by every Wednesday, market coordinator Anastasia Petrie will hear about it from his regulars.
Actually, there are more than two reasons to visit this market, not the least of which is its showcase of small, organic farms. Vendors offer up a more limited assortment of produce than you will find at the larger Portland Farmers Markets, but if you can't find what you're looking for in the courtyard, the Co-op's grocery store is a few steps away.
And, unlike the commercialized PFMs, if you're looking to grow your own, many Co-op vendors sell potted plant starts. The "teach a man to fish" business model doesn't seem to make much sense for vendors, but it is a perfect demonstration of their staunch commitment to mindful business practices.
Location: The courtyard at People's Food Co-op, 3029 S.E. 21st Ave.
Time: Wednesdays, year round. 2-7 pm.
The crowd: A neighborhood market in the best sense, the Co-op enjoys a steady stream of regulars. Old hippies and young families frequent.
Senior sellers: Wild Things Farm. Pick up mushrooms, flowers and herbs.
Freshman sellers: Townshends Kombucha is new this summer. Try the Lemon Ginger Cayenne.
Trending: Rhubarb and sweet onions.
Highlight: This n' That rhubarb pies.
Food carts on site: Sarah's Tomales.
Dog friendly: Yes
Parking: Free street parking is fairly easy to find.
Find more information here.