Summer pop up events to feature Oregon specialty crops
Bruce Pokarney, ODA – The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are teaming
up this summer to offer five dinner events in five different communities. What do these dinners all have
in common? They will all feature Oregon grown specialty crops. The “Crop Up Dinner Series and
Market Showcase”, which runs in July, August, and September, is designed to bring together local
growers, food buyers, chefs, and the general public.
“We are hoping to educate attendees about Oregon specialty crops,” says Julia Turner, an ODA
international trade manager who, along with OSU Research Chef Jason Ball, has been planning and
organizing the dinner series. “Oregon produces more than 200 different crops and most of them are
specialty crops. That’s pretty impressive. We hope to promote these crops, teach people where they are
grown, how you can cook with them, and how they can be enjoyed in various recipes.”
Patterned after the trendy and popular concept of pop up restaurants, the crop up dinners are
designed to be more than a venue for eating food. They are an event.
“Pop up dinners are so unique because their life span is so short,” says Turner. “They give people
the sense that this is something special that they don’t want to miss. It’s not a restaurant you can go to
any night you choose. It’s something happening in your community, for one night only. Don’t miss it.”
The dinner and showcase series is funded through federal Specialty Crop Block Grant funds. In
Oregon, nearly $2 million is funding projects that help boost the competitiveness of the state’s fruits,
vegetables, tree nuts, and other specialty crops. Dinner attendees will be able to enjoy a variety of these
crops largely supplied through donations from commodity commissions, food companies, and local
farmers in the communities in which the events are held.
“In the five communities we will be holding these events, we want to bring the public together
with food and agricultural industries for a fun and educational dinner,” says Turner.
The crop up dinners will reach different regions of Oregon but all will be held at OSU facilities:
• Aurora, July 21 at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center
• Astoria, August 4 at the OSU Seafood Lab
• Hermiston, August 18 at the Hermiston Agricultural Research Center
• Portland, August 24 at the Food Innovation Center
• Medford, September 13 at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center
“Unlike a restaurant, we will go to places that are somewhat remote,” says OSU’s Ball. “Very
little cooking equipment will be available to us– maybe a grill or small stove top. We’ll use volunteers,
get together, and be creative with food. It will be simple and highlight the specialty crops themselves.”
For tickets visit: Oregon Crop Up Dinners