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Troutdale tries winter market

by: Barbara Adams, Peter Tuomala, right, as Santa Claus, holds Mia Richman at the Troutdale Farmers’ Market on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Peter Tuomala is no stranger to farmers' markets.

He runs the Fairview, Troutdale and Cascade Locks markets throughout the spring and summer and is associated with Windance Farm.

However, his newest undertaking - keeping the Troutdale Farmer's Market open through the winter on Saturday mornings - could be quite an adventure.

Although he is almost eternally optimistic when it comes to the future of the Troutdale market, Tuomala said it is frustrating to see people drive up, glance around and then leave without even getting out of their cars.

'We knew this would be a tough road this year,' Tuomala said. 'One of the largest things right now is just trying to get our customers to come down. The people who know we're here are coming in.'

They sometimes wander in one or two at a time, but some weeks the market has seen as many as 25 people, Tuomala said.

Although fewer vendors are represented at the market in the winter months, regular customers continue to brave the cold and the wind to buy seasonal produce such as apples, pears and mustard greens, or farm fresh duck eggs, he said.

'People I think are really getting tuned in with local foods,' Tuomala said.

The produce at the market comes from three area farms - Nizich, Windance and Winter.

Daniel and Jennifer Richman, who formerly owned Monkey Business Jewelry in downtown Gresham, also show their wares at the Troutdale Farmers' Market.

'The business is still standing, just not in the store,' Daniel said, adding that the couple's sales have increased dramatically since they began selling at the market rather than their little-known store.

Jennifer, who makes most of the jewelry, said she prefers to use natural stones for her necklaces. Some leatherwork and copper wiring also adorn the jewelry.

Tuomala hopes that some of the vendors who sell at the market during the summer will return.

'I would like to see more vendors out here - people who are looking for an opportunity, for places to go,' Tuomala said, adding that he would like to help local entrepreneurs be successful.

In the meantime, Tuomala will rely on his big smile and his knowledge of the customers to keep bringing people in.