• Monday, June 26, 2017

A Fresh Approach to Farmers Markets

By Teree Caruthers for Growing Oregon magazine

Farmers markets play a critical role in connecting farmers to consumers in Oregon. At one end of that connection, family farms find a place to share what they grow. At the other end, consumers have access to fresh, locally grown food.

Supporting Family Farmers

The Lane County Farmers Market in Eugene can trace its roots back to the city’s first Producers Market in 1915. Hosting more than 85 vendors, it operates year round and rotates between three different venues across the city. Lane County’s summer Saturday market features fresh, leafy greens, locally raised meats and cheeses, as well as colorful rows of berries grown exclusively in Oregon. In the fall, market offerings shift to autumn produce, pumpkins, squash, apples and fresh cider.

Putting The “Health” In Healthcare

More than 160 farmers markets across the state help raise the visibility of Oregon agriculture while providing access to local, fresh, healthy foods. That’s certainly the mission of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Farmers Market in Portland, which will celebrate 11 years in 2017.

“Our goal is to connect health care with healthy food for all who visit, work and live in the OHSU community,” says Eecole Copen, manager of the market on OSHU’s Marquam Hill campus. “It’s really helpful to have healthy food at your fingertips, and it’s a way for people, particularly in the health care profession, to walk their talk as far as getting fresh produce and healthy foods into their diet. It’s very convenient to buy your groceries while you’re at work, and it’s a way to support the local economy and feel good about the food they’re buying. It’s also a really lovely place to come and take a break from work to eat lunch.”

Copen says the number of vendors at the market has grown along with the market’s positive reputation throughout the OHSU community.

“The more health-care professionals can make the connection between healthy foods as a way to improve health, the more they will be able to promote it to their patients from an authentic place,” she says. “It’s building relationships with farmers, vendors and business owners, and then creating a loyal customer following and having people feel like they can trust where their food is coming from.”

Connecting The Community

Sarah Case, economic development supervisor for Lane County is a native Oregonian who grew up on a farm originally homesteaded by her family, says farmers markets also build a sense of community.

“I think you would be hard- pressed to find someone who wouldn’t enjoy a farmers market. They are an attraction both to local residents and tourists,” Case says. “Farmers markets can add vibrancy to any location and contribute to the overall culture of the area. Generally, Oregonians value what farmers markets can add to a community on a number of different levels.”

Learn more about Oregon Farmers Markets: www.oregonfarmersmarkets.org

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