When Lancaster, Penn. city planners set aside 120 square feet in the center of town for food purveyors to sell their goods in 1730, the American farmers market was born, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Portland’s version may not be that old—the city wasn’t even founded until the following century—but Oregon’s premier farmers market organization is celebrating a pretty big milestone: three decades of connecting the state’s growers and foragers with local shoppers.
To mark that anniversary, the Portland Farmers Market will host additional events from 8:30 am to 2 pm Saturday, Sept. 17 at its flagship location in the Portland State University South Park Blocks.
The free festivities honor not only the community of vendors that has grown over the last three decades but also the volunteers, staff and board members who help run the year-round pavilion. Visitors can expect everything from a pop-up museum dedicated to the history of the Portland Farmers Market to cooking demonstrations to musical performances.
“Over the past three decades, thanks to the dedicated farmers and food producers in our region, and the local shoppers who appreciate the value of connecting with their food-makers, we’ve seen Portland Farmers Market blossom from a single market on the waterfront to a multi-market organization that bolsters our regional food economy and keeps those dollars circulating right here in Oregon,” Portland Farmers Market executive director Katy Kolker stated in a press release. “As we look ahead to the next 30 years, we’re committed to ensuring that this organization will continue to serve as a vital conduit, connecting the people who make our food directly with the people purchasing it.”
The market first opened on June 13, 1992 in the parking lot of the Albers Mill building on the banks of the Willamette near the Broadway Bridge. It was the first of its kind in the city, allowing urban dwellers to more easily access farm-fresh produce directly from growers.
In 1996, the market relocated to the PSU campus, where it still operates today. Of the original 22 vendors that helped launch the event, nine are still active. There are now five markets in neighborhoods across town, including those in the Kenton, Lents and King neighborhoods as well as Shemanski Park. Overall, those sites generate up to $8 million in sales from 700,000 shoppers a year.