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Volunteer Profile - Joan Quinn

Sarah West



Joan QuinnYou were involved in getting Hillsdale Farmers' Market started. What drew you to that project? Why did you want to have a farmers' market in Hillsdale?
The great notion of community is what drew me. I've always worked on political campaigns (starting with Wayne Morse) and social issues. Then in 2000, in my retirement years, I worked a bit at OSPIRG and left the board at CUB (Citizen Utility Board). I wanted something to DO. The most immediate reason I got involved was that Ted Coonfield, Rick Seifert and Glenn Bridger were such inspiring community supporters. Who could resist?? All they wanted was money donations and people to form committees to get the market started. It was fun meeting on the second floor of the old Mexican restaurant, Poncho's [now Casa Colima], to get it all started.

How has the market changed since you got involved?
It's been quite an even course since the Market started, with a clean objective to support local farmers and share their produce with the community. The market’s leaders, including its first manager, Halli [Mittleman], made sure we kept to that standard. A few experiments didn't last long, such as caramel corn popped on site (Oh, the smell was awful), the clown who painted faces, or loud marimba music (darn it!) [Joan was a member of the marimba ensemble]. The main change was when we crossed the street in 2005. Until then, we carted everything—tents and tables—up the stairs of Poncho's restaurant to the attic for storage. What a chore! But, to their credit, Poncho's gave us water and electricity too.

What makes Hillsdale Farmers’ Market unique compared to other Portland markets?
I think the vendors consider our Market pretty much THEIR market, even though they sell elsewhere in the area. That's because our management is clearly there for them, listening to their needs, adapting, responsive and fair. They trust that our Market Manager has their welfare as a priority. It's definitely a neighborhood market. When we started the volunteer booth and my friend Sally McLaughlin set up the volunteer computer list, I went to the Hollywood Market because they were 7 years ahead of us and a neighborhood market to see what kind of signs they used and how they did the volunteering.

What is one of your favorite market volunteer duties?
It used to be the Kids' Table in the summer but we don't do that now. Another favorite is seeing if vendors need any help (water, hand warmers, or a break). Or when something unusual comes up, like three summers ago when a young couple showed up with a rabbit who they'd given a Mohawk haircut and didn't really want anymore. I found that Norma and Roger's (of Springwater Farm) daughter was an expert at caring for rabbits and agreed to raise him.

What keeps you coming back as a volunteer?
My experiences at the Market have enhanced my feeling of community. I love it because of all the neighbors, friends, and strangers who are enjoying themselves as I am. That's the reason I come back each week.

What is your favorite item to buy at the market right now?
Right now my two favorite things to buy at the market are Charlie's (of Sun Gold Farm) walnuts and Gathering Together's parsley...top notch!!

Interview by Sarah West