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Getting Here

The market sets up in the Rieke Elementary parking lot in Portland, Oregon. Parking is available at both entrances. Fom Capital Highway: enter at Sunset Blvd and turn left into the lot along the Wilson High School track bleachers. From Vermont St: parking is allowed along the north side of Vermont as well as the south end of the Rieke Elementary parking lot.


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Smoking is not permitted in the market or on Portland Public Schools property including the school parking lots.

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Contact information

Hillsdale Farmers' Market
PO Box 80262
Portland OR 97280

phone
503-475-6555

email
contact@hillsdalefarmersmarket.com

Thursday
Jul092015

Vendor Spotlight: DeNoble's Farm Fresh Produce

Farmers’ markets are a collection of businesses, a temporal grocery store where each shelf comes with a smiling face and a wealth of knowledge about the products they create. We’re giving our vendors the spotlight to share more about their role in the Hillsdale market community.

by Sarah West

Tom and Patreece DeNoble probably didn’t foresee their future as one of Portland’s leading vegetable farms when they started growing calla lilies in the backyard of their Tillamook, Oregon home in the early 90’s. “It was a hobby,” Tom explained on a recent tour of their 40-acre farm located just outside of Tillamook, “that became our livelihood.”

Tom grew up on his family’s dairy not far south from where his vegetable farm now sits. A dairy farm childhood is a hard-won lesson in responsibility; Tom and his siblings helped with morning and afternoon milkings, among the farm’s other chores, putting in four- to eight-hour days in addition to their schoolwork.

“I wanted out,” Tom recalled, and he found work in construction and then at the Tillamook cheese factory, the job he left when he and Patreece expanded their calla lily operation from their backyard onto a 23-acre parcel of leased land, just down the road from their present-day farm.

  

“We ended up growing artichokes because a guy I knew wanted a job from me,” Tom recalled. “I asked him what he could do, and he said he knew how to grow artichokes.”

Tom took a chance on a crop that was new to him, quickly learning that artichokes are well-suited to Tillamook’s coastal climate, with moderate summer highs and fog-bank-regulated sunlight. The artichokes were an instant success; superior in quality and flavor to those shipped in from California, they fetched a good price from local wholesale markets. Tom (and a few other area artichoke growers) delivered to a number of coastal and inland groceries until the California suppliers caught wind of the competition.

“One day when I was out on my deliveries, I got a call from [a commercial grocer’s] produce manager saying I needed to come and get the artichokes I’d just dropped off,” Tom recalled. “ I asked him what was wrong with them and he said, ‘Nothing. But yours are a dollar each and California just sent us a shipment for a quarter each.’ All but one store called to have me come pick up the artichokes I’d just delivered. So that was the end of that.”

  

Around this time (the late 90’s), the DeNobles had begun selling at the Milwaukie Farmers Market, and, in 2002, were a founding vendor of the Hillsdale Farmers Market. When their wholesale outlets stopped calling, they transitioned to direct marketing through farmers markets in order to get the price they knew their high-quality product deserved, and which would keep their farm in business. Direct marketing works because it allows the farmer to (literally) stand behind their product.

“If you don’t get to tell your story,” Tom acknowledged, “your stuff isn’t going to sell because no one can tell the difference [between your product and one that was conventionally grown].”

The DeNobles use sustainable growing practices—composted manure, organic amendments, crop rotation, and the occasional organic-approved spray for pest control—but are not currently certified organic. It’s a conundrum that many farmers-market-scale growers face: certification creates an extra (often significant) cost, one that the farmer must pass on to their customers (some of whom may no longer be able to afford their product); but without certification, it is difficult to expand into the wholesale market—certification provides the proof of quality a farmer needs to get a fair price for their product.

  

Besides artichokes, the DeNobles now grow (in lieu of calla lilies, which they moved away from in the mid-2000’s) an ever-expanding assortment of vegetables. Their rich, nearly rock-free soil nurtures large and tender root crops, and the cool Tillamook climate keeps them well-stocked in brassicas (kales, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) and artichokes throughout the summer months, when Willamette Valley farms struggle to keep up production of these heat-sensitive crops.

The trade-off is that tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants can be a bit of a stretch for their coastal farm, which is why the DeNobles have installed twenty-two unheated greenhouses, each one-hundred feet long, for a total of two-acres of temperature-moderated growing space.

Even so, Tom admitted, “Tomatoes are one thing we may start growing less of. They just take too long out here.”

“You can’t grow everything everywhere,” He explained about their ongoing variety trials, “You have to figure out what works where you farm and let go of the things that don’t.”

  

This tireless search for balance between production efficiencies and quality control is part of what makes DeNoble’s vegetables stand out in Portland’s increasingly competitive local food market. In addition to selling at four Portland-area farmers markets, they deliver to 37 restaurants, and stock a popular farmstand on their property in Tillamook. They are considering organic certification for next year, a step they must take in order to profitably re-enter the wholesale market.

Despite its many expansions in the past twenty years, their farm remains a mostly family-run business. Tom and Patreece’s two children, Chandler and Lexi, both work full-time on the farm, and the four of them do almost all of the harvesting, as well as much of the planting and crop management, with the help of three other farmhands.

“We are very picky about our vegetables,” Tom emphasized, from variety selection and cultivation practices to harvesting, packing, and storing—they aim for the highest quality vegetables they are capable of producing.

He and Patreece are the only farmers allowed to harvest the artichokes (though they are slowly training Chandler), a daunting task considering they have 13-acres of this signature crop, but one they attribute to their product’s success.

“If I wouldn’t eat it, I won’t sell it,” seconded Patreece.

But the proof, as they say, is in the artichoke-flavored pudding. If you haven’t yet tried a DeNoble artichoke (or any of their flavorful vegetables), it’s time you did. If you have, than you know what Tom and Patreece are talking about: Tillamook (and the DeNoble Family Farm) grows good artichokes.

You can find them at Hillsdale through the summer season, or swing by their farmstand on your way to the coast. Learn more at: www.denoblefarms.com or Facebook link.

Thursday
Jun252015

Vendor Spotlight: Baird Family Orchards

Farmers’ markets are a collection of businesses, a temporal grocery store where each shelf comes with a smiling face and a wealth of knowledge about the products they create. We’re giving our vendors the spotlight to share more about their role in the Hillsdale market community.

By Sarah West

When it comes down to it, Trevor Baird is, unsurprisingly, a fruit geek. Traipsing around his family’s Dayton area orchard on a hot early June afternoon, his enthusiasm is palpable as he introduces us to his trees. Among the popular sellers like Honeycrisp apples and Suncrest peaches are many varieties you and I have probably never heard of.

“I’m an experimenter,” Trevor declares, a statement that encompasses both his business strategy as the successor, along with his sister, Jennifer, of his parents’ orchard, and his personal fascination with the fruit growing profession.

He stops in front of an apple tree called Firecracker with dark red fruits hung along its drooping branches like, well, firecrackers. When mature, the petite apples have pure crimson flesh and a tart bite that Trevor sells to chefs looking for something striking to put on their plates. There’s Goldrush, a yellow-skinned apple with remarkable disease resistance and dense, tangy flesh that ages well in storage. There’s Harken, a peach whose fruits are still fuzzy green marbles, that’s Trevor’s favorite for its quintessentially peachy flavor. And then there are the pluots, a super-tasty hybrid of plums and apricots whose trees are known for taking a long time to settle in and which have yet, in Trevor Baird’s orchard at least, to produce more than a handful of fruits.

Farming is tricky business, requiring the financial deftness necessary to navigate market fluctuations and evolving consumer tastes, all while taming the wild horse that is your chosen field: its weeds and weather, its abundance and shortages, its relentless demands on your energy and time. Nowhere is this more apparent than in an orchard, where the terms are dictated by a tree’s timeline, not a human’s.

Freshly planted fruit trees must be irrigated, fertilized, protected from pests and pathogens, and weeded for 3-5 years before they begin to produce a significant yield. And yields, even on healthy, mature trees, will vary from year to year due to fluctuations in pollination rates and simply how the spring weather played out. If it gets too warm too early, a tree may bloom prematurely, only to have its tender flowers blasted by frost a few days later.

“This year,” Trevor explained, “the mild winter didn’t provide enough chill hours for the Honeycrisp to set much fruit.”

All fruit trees, notably apples, wait to initiate their spring bloom until they’ve registered a prescribed number of hours (the exact number varies by variety) at around 45-degrees Fahrenheit. But what’s bad for one crop is good for another, which is why diversity is the name of the game at Baird Family Orchards. To survive poor yields and shifting consumer tastes, you need to have made decisions three years ago that meet today’s needs. The best way to do that is to give yourself a lot of options.

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Purchased in 1984 by Trevor’s parents, Don and Kathy, the 40-acre parcel that now hosts dozens of stone and pome fruit varieties came planted in standard cherries—enormous trees whose upper branches were too difficult to harvest. The Bairds soon removed them, putting apples and a few Suncrest and Flamecrest peaches in their place. As was the case for many small apple orchards of the time, the Alar (a chemical growth regulator and suspected carcinogen) scare of the late 1980’s drove wholesale apple prices so low it no longer made sense to harvest their trees, challenging the Bairds to reconsider their plantings yet again.

It was around this time that Don Baird and his son Trevor had begun selling fruit directly to consumers at some of the area’s first farmers markets in Gresham and Beaverton. The peaches they’d planted on a whim turned out to be a big hit with market customers, inspiring the Bairds to transition their orchard to include more stone fruits—peaches, cherries, apricots, and plums—while keeping some of their best apple varieties.

As we move through the orchard, Trevor noting when he expects this or that to show up at market, it becomes clear that each variety has a specific, and often short, harvest window. Because they sell at so many markets in the Portland area (around fifteen at last count), and since most varieties are planted in modest quantities, not all varieties make it to every market. As Trevor admits with a chuckle, this level of diversification would be madness on a wholesale farm, but it lends much needed flexibility to their farmers-market-oriented harvest schedule, and appealing novelty to their offerings. No two weeks at Baird’s stand taste the same.

If diversity is Baird’s survival strategy, flavor is their most compelling selling point. Their fruits are known for impressive sweetness and the way they all seem to taste like the best version of themselves. This is not an accident. Don, Trevor, and a dedicated team of farmhands, take great care to cultivate optimum flavor through variety selection, smart horticultural management, and by allowing their fruit to ripen on the tree.

The same standard of quality applies to Baird’s leased orchard, operated by Dan and Ron Gunkel, who continue to farm land their father established in Goldendale, Washington in 1936. Don Baird struck up a partnership with the Gunkels twenty years ago that resulted in a block of the Gunkel orchard dedicated to growing fruit just for the Bairds.

The Gunkel block allows the Bairds room to expand the supply of some of their more popular varieties. When something from the Dayton orchard—where Trevor and Don have the freedom to trial new varieties for performance, flavor, and customer popularity—does particularly well, they plant it on the Gunkel’s property in numbers large enough to keep the market booth stocked for more than a couple of weeks. Like the Bairds, the Gunkels harvest all of their trees by hand, selecting only the ripest fruit, and packing it with care to preserve its delicate texture.

“It’s a perfect partnership,” Trevor tells me. “We all work really well together, which is why the fruit tastes so good.”

The last thing Trevor shows us a row of top-grafts put in this spring. Top-grafting is a shortcut of sorts, where part of a mature tree is lopped off and branches (called scions) from a different variety are wedged into the host tree’s cambium. The host tree has more energy reserves than does a newly planted tree, resulting in larger harvests after a shorter wait period. They strike me as a fitting metaphor for Trevor and Jennifer Baird: the next generation growing from the challenges and momentum of its predecessor with the enthusiasm of a fresh start.

Saturday
Apr112015

Hillsdale Farmers' Market is Volunteer Powered!

Love coming to the market? Wondering how to get more involved? Volunteering at Hillsdale Farmers Market is a great way for shoppers of all ages to enrich their neighborhood community while spending time outside, learning more about our vendors and their products, meeting new people, and having a great time.

Our volunteers enrich the market with their talents, passions, and dedication to community. Some of the services our volunteers provide:

  • Setting up market infrastructure each market day morning
  • Selling market tokens and answering questions at the Information Booth
  • Planning and organizing market events
  • Staffing event booths (such as our Opening Day Plant Giveaway, Customer Appreciation Day chocolate covered strawberries, Tomato Mania market tomato sampling, Feed Me Fresh cooking demonstrations, and the Hillsdale Urban Fair)
  • Serving on the HFM Board of Directors.

We are in need of a few new volunteers this summer to help with market set-up (from 8-10am; ability to do some heavy lifting is useful but certainly not required), information booth (10am-12pm or 12-2pm) and special events, including the upcoming second annual Hillsdale Urban Fair on October 11, 2015. Find out more about volunteering at Hillsdale Farmers’ Market here: http://www.hillsdalefarmersmarket.com/volunteering/, or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah West at hillsdalemarketvolunteers@gmail.com for more information.

Please let us know if you have an idea for the market and would like to be a part of seeing your idea to fruition! We know there is a lot of untapped talent out there in Hillsdale and we look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday
Apr092015

Vendor Profile: Obon

Farmers’ markets are a collection of businesses, a temporal grocery store where each shelf comes with a smiling face and a wealth of knowledge about the products they create and sell. We’re giving our vendors the spotlight to share more about their role in the Hillsdale market community.

By Sarah West

Since moving to Portland in March of 2014, Fumiko Hozumi and Jason Duffany have made quick work of finding a unique voice in Portland’s crowded food industry. The couple met in San Fransisco, where Fumiko rolled sushi at a Castro District restaurant by night while completing a vet tech certification program by day, and Jason transitioned from computer engineering to cooking when he was hired to serve as the kitchen manager and chef for the deli of a small organic grocery store in Sausalito. Tiring of the Bay Area’s rising cost of living and increasing urban density, Jason and Fumiko began looking elsewhere for a place to settle down and try their hand at food entrepreneurship. After a brief scouting trip in early 2014 to Portland’s southeast neighborhoods, they were charmed by the city’s decentralized restaurant scene.

“Our brief stay led us to discover that downtown didn't fully represent this city,” Jason explained. “By late March we had moved into a small mother-in-law unit on the east face of Mt Tabor. Shortly afterward we founded Obon and signed a lease for a commercial kitchen.”

Menu Item #1: Kenchinjiru – A hearty stew with a ginger-flavored miso broth, seasonal root vegetables, mushrooms, and non-gmo tofu. This warming soup was a signature winter dish in Fumiko’s childhood home

Right from the start, they noticed a lack of vegan Japanese food in Portland and designed their business model to serve that niche market. Taking cues from traditional Japanese Buddhist cuisine, Obon’s plant-based menu aims for authentic and healthful food that satisfies the adventurous tastes of eaters in a vibrant food city. At the recommendation of a friend, the couple purchased some basic equipment and applied to farmers markets. Billing Obon as a mobile food business and catering company with brick-and-mortar aspirations, they used the markets as an opportunity to practice ramping up their production capacity and introducing their unique products to a customer base already enthusiastic about fresh vegetables.

A Japanese native, Fumiko’s repertoire forms the foundation of Obon’s menu. Her recipes draw on a collection of flavors and techniques gleaned from childhood memories and dishes she and Jason discovered on visits to Japan. Tweaked and influenced by the seasonal availability of ingredients and Jason’s zest for exploring unconventional flavor combinations, Obon’s food is a playful blend of old and new.

Menu Item #2: Giant Tater Tots – Organic russet potatoes are mashed with seasonal vegetables and coated in Tabor Bread panko, fried in palm oil, and served with house-made carrot ketchup.

They gave Obon the tagline, “Feel good Japanese comfort food,” a phrase Jason describes as summing up what he and Fumiko appreciate about the plant-based Japanese cuisine their menu emulates.

“For us, Japanese comfort food has always been easier to digest [than its Western counterparts] & never leaves us feeling heavy or sick no matter how much we stuff our faces—which we often do.”

Menu Item #3: Karokke – This traditional fritter made of sweet potato or winter squash, organic raisins, and Japanese curry blend is a snack Fumiko fondly recalls purchasing as a child on her way home from school. Coated in Tabor Bread panko and fried in palm oil, Obon serves their karokke drizzled with tangy house-made Tamarind sauce.

 

Instead of relying on animal fats and dairy to flavor and enrich their dishes, Jason and Fumiko employ technique and the highest-quality ingredients they can source. Making connections with other farmers market vendors has been an unexpected but integral part of this process. Standing with them at their People’s Co-op Farmers Market stall on an early April Wednesday, Fumiko pointed across to the Tabor Bread booth and explained that they make all of the panko (breadcrumbs) for their tater tots and karokke from Tabor Bread loaves, a southeast Portland bakery known for its use of locally grown wheat and fermented wild yeast leavens.

“It was a game changer,” Jason added. “The flavor of those two items just got so much better.”

Another trick up their sleeve is tofu misozuke, a product they first tried at a restaurant in Onomichi, a small seaside town in Hiroshima Prefecture.

“We had it served on cucumber slices with micro-greens at an izakaya bar where we were sipping local sake. Due to its creaminess, we assumed it was a cheese product, but were corrected by one of the cooks working the front of the restaurant: It was fermented tofu, aged in miso for at least two weeks.”

Menu Item #4: Sprouted Brown Rice Onigiri – For this gluten-free treat, sprouted brown rice is blended with Japanese-style pickled organic vegetables, and filled with Obon’s signature tofu misozuke before being shaped and nestled into an organic nori wrapper. Onigiri are a classic Japanese lunch box staple, and a vehicle for each cook to showcase her own unique style.

Tofu misozuke is surprisingly creamy and smooth, with a mild, nutty flavor lent from the miso it ferments in and a brie-like richness that fills your mouth as fully as triple-cream cheese. After returning from their trip, Fumiko and Jason were determined to create their own.

"We found out about Rau Om, a company started by a couple in the Bay Area who had become just as intrigued as we had after their first taste of misozuke. When they stopped producing it commercially they posted their recipe online. We've combined some of their techniques with what we found in The Book of Miso, plus what we learned initially in Onomichi,” Jason told me, adding: “We eat it almost daily as a condiment for just about anything. At farmers markets, we serve it smoked inside our sprouted brown rice onigiri.”

Obon produces small batches of misozuke packaged for retail that are available for purchase at People’s Food Co-op and Food Front’s NW Thurman Street location. As its popularity grows, they hope to expand the product line with flavored misozuke spreads.

With their sharp curiosity and dedication to authentic Japanese preparations, Obon has already developed five recipes that stretch well beyond the sushi- and ramen-dominated boxes we’ve come to expect of Japanese food in the US. More than just vegan or health food, faithful to but not restricted by tradition, Obon’s first success has been to create Obon food, a menu as undeniably their own as it is uniquely alluring.

You’ll be able to sample Obon’s meticulously crafted delicacies every Sunday at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. Stay up to date with new menu items, products, and events (including a summer 2015 farm dinner hosted by HFM’s Naked Acres Farm) by visiting www.obonpdx.com and their Facebook page (link).

This article contains several corrections to the original piece published in the email version of the Grapevine sent on April 9, 2015.

Thursday
Mar192015

Vendor Profile: Kookoolan Farm

Farmers’ markets are a collection of businesses, a temporal grocery store where each shelf comes with a smiling face and a wealth of knowledge about the products they create and sell. We’re giving our vendors the spotlight to share more about their role in the Hillsdale market community.

By Sarah West

Hillsdale vendor since 2007, Kookoolan Farms has quickly built a name as the place to go for pasture-raised chickens and eggs in the Portland area. That same year, the farm was the first in Oregon to open a fully licensed on-site poultry slaughtering facility, allowing more vertical integration in an industry with notoriously low profit margins. Kookoolan has since expanded their product line to include pastured pork and lamb, grassfed beef, a vegetable CSA, and a year-round farm store. Oh, and for bonus points, they set up a kombucha and mead brewery, most recently opening their Mead Superstore and Tasting Room.

Just taking in all that is Kookoolan Farms requires a few deep breaths. The dynamic duo behind Kookoolan Farms, Chrissie and Koorosh Zaerpoor, met while working as program managers at Intel (Koorosh still works there). The couple married and began dreaming a world outside of Intel where they could work together on a project that integrated their engineering skills with more personal interests: Chrissie was an avid gardener and cook with a passion for home mead making, Koorosh still harbored dreams of becoming a farmer he’d hatched as a child in Iran helping out with his parents’ poultry flock.

While Chrissie’s first entrepreneurial aspiration was to open a meadery, the couple also saw a need for local, pasture-raised chicken and eggs in the area, and set to work building a farm to fill that niche. The road was not without pitfalls or unexpected turns, but, within two years of founding the farm, the persistent couple was able to accomplish something out of reach to most small-scale chicken farmers since the rise of industrial agriculture: the ability to legally process their own flock on their own farm for sale to farmers market customers, restaurants, and grocery stores alike.

This may seem like an obvious direction for a poultry farm to grow, but the reality of achieving it was far more difficult than the Zaerpoors initially realized. Though regulations have changed somewhat since Kookoolan’s 2005 startup (especially for farmers with fewer than a thousand birds), the USDA has strict codes that make it prohibitively expensive for small producers to operate their own slaughter facility. Kookoolan persevered and became the first farm of their size in Oregon to accomplish this feat. As their processing ability increased, they realized that the five-acre plot they purchased in 2005 would not be sufficient to produce the flock sizes required to build a sustainable business.

The Zaerpoors began to see their Carlton-Yamhill neighbors as potential partners, carefully selecting farms in their area willing to adhere to the same meticulous standards as they did in raising their chickens. With careful planning, Kookoolan Farms became a cooperative of ethical meat and poultry farmers, greatly expanding their product line, and distributing the labor to a network of specialists. Chrissie remains the hub of operations, coordinating the farm’s wholesale distribution, farmers market sales, and, of course, quality control. The cooperative model finally freed up some of the Zaerpoor’s time, allowing them to expand their vegetable garden into a summer CSA program and giving Chrissie time to get back into mead.

The original Kookoolan Farm site still houses a portion of the farm’s pastured chickens, their poultry processing facility, a serve-yourself farm store, the vegetable rows, a small plot of pinot noir grapes, and the new Mead Superstore.Visitors are welcome on weekends (or during the week, by appointment) to browse their selection of over 150 different meads and taste Kookoolan’s own farm-made Elegance Mead, kombucha, and Vin de Noix. What about those pinot noir grapes? Well, they may just show up in the Kookoolan lineup soon in the form of a pinot-mead blend known as pyment.

Though Kookoolan has been selling their chickens through New Seasons for a couple years, they recently decided to pull out of the arrangement. In the context of a grocery store meat counter (even a grocery store with a reputation for higher-income shoppers), local, pasture-raised chickens separated from their farmer’s story, sitting next to temptingly cheaper alternatives, are a tough sell. New Seasons requested birds under four pounds, but Kookoolan can’t make a profit raising such small chickens. They’ve decided to stick with direct-market sales here at Hillsdale and (on alternate Sundays) the Hillsboro/Orenco market. That’s a testament to the power of farmers market shoppers, who make a significant contribution to the viability of even the most outwardly successful small farm businesses.

Find out more at: www.kookoolanfarms.com

Note: A fire broke out on Kookoolan Farms on the evening of March 18th. Two outbuildings were lost in the fire. Read about the fire here (link).