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Farmers market thrives in Lents

Event might go weekly next year as immigrant vendors draw crowds

An ambitious attempt to grow a farmers market in Lents bore fruit this summer, and will culminate Sunday with its final event.

Having hosted two markets so far, volunteer organizer Hilary Dubose said the Lents International Farmers Market is achieving its mission of generating big crowds while capturing the diversity of its neighborhood, and hopes to expand its efforts to a weekly market next year.

'We're the only market in Portland ever that focuses on immigrant and emerging farmers,' she said.

In fact, more than 40 percent of its farmers are immigrants, including Hmong, Turkish and African vendors. The market even provides translators for everything from Spanish to Mandarin.

Rather than cater to only upscale clientele, organizers have tried to serve the Lents neighborhood, accepting WIC and senior food coupons. They also have tried to focus on local residents and farmers, such as the immigrant families that tend a community garden at Zenger Farm, a city-owned educational farm in Lents. This focus has helped smooth over concerns that the market will fuel gentrification - a hot topic of late at contentious meetings of the Lents Neighborhood Association, according to Wisteria Loeffler of Zenger Farm.

'The cool thing about the market is that everyone agrees on it and is excited by it,' she said, adding that on the morning of the market, 'all these people that are at odds at meetings are out there putting up tents together.'

Besides produce, flowers, gyros, tamales and other foodstuffs, vendors at Sunday's event also will sell coffee drinks. There will be a special eating area as well as live music. Sunday will focus on apples, featuring an apple cider pressing and other activities.

The market was the brainchild of the Lents Food Group, a volunteer-fed organization nurtured by a partnership of Zenger Farm, Healthy Eating by Design, the Oregon Food Bank, the Portland/Multnomah Food Policy Council, Lents Neighborhood Association, and Pilgrim Lutheran Church. For information, go to www.quantumneighborhood.com/lentsfoodgroup

The market will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, next to Crossroads Plaza on Southeast 92nd Avenue and Foster Road. Free parking will be provided by the Lents Masonic Lodge, next door to the market at 5811 S.E. 92nd Ave.

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