Smaller markets find their groove

Once in the shadow of larger markets, Fairview and Troutdale find their neighborly feel and relaxed, intimate vibe has drawn a steady stream of community support
by: Shanda Tice, Trish Wenzel, right, and Patty Stevens, left, assist shoppers Lily Lanagan and her son Ryland Lanagan, 4, at the Wind Dance Organic vegetable booth at the Fairview Farmers’ and Artists’ Market, which opened for the season Thursday, April 5.

Lori Beaty is a self-described candle-freak. Out shopping, her nose will lead her to the candle aisle, where she'll spend long minutes sniffing, her brain dissecting the scent. When she and her husband moved from Texas to Fairview two years ago, she had an epiphany.

'I was learning about soy and how you could make candles with it, and I thought, 'Soy! Hey, we're in Oregon,' ' she says. 'They like healthy stuff here.'

Her kitchen turned into a soy candle-making workshop and Faerie Harvest was born. Now she sells her many scented creations at Fairview Farmers' Market, a match that she says feels like it was made in heaven.

'I love it,' she says. 'I look forward to it.'

With almost edible scents like butterscotch brulee and humorous scents like monkey farts ('Think about it,' she says. 'What do they eat?') Beaty said she loves the banter with regular customers and the friendly, easygoing vibe at the market.

'We had Thanksgiving and Christmas with the egg ladies,' she says. 'We're all friends here. It's great.'

The neighborly atmosphere, creative energy and healthy, organic produce are what make the Fairview Farmers' Market and other smaller markets so attractive, says Market Director Peter Tuomala.

Tuomala calls the Fairview market his 'flagship' market. It started in 2001, and he added Troutdale in 2005, with Cascade Locks starting in 2006.

'What I found in the last several years is that people like a smaller market,' he says. 'I know I do. You get these markets where there's 100 booths, and there's politics and you get bumped around and it's crowded. With our smaller markets, it's more relaxed, there's not a lot of competition. It's nice.'

The Fairview market opened Thursday, April 5, with Troutdale opening today at Depot Park. Cascade Locks opened Sunday, April 1.

The markets have some fresh produce now, with more being added weekly. One new feature this year is a co-op booth, which allows farmers, bakers and crafters to sell their wares without necessarily having to be there every week.

'For a lot of our smaller farmers, they want to sell, but they're working hard on their farm so they can't be there some weeks,' he said.

Dave Dahl is a new vendor this year. The Portland resident bakes organic breads under the name 'Dave's Killer Bread.' He sells about 10,000 loaves a week through New Seasons.

He chose to join the Fairview market to gain exposure.

'I don't have a big advertising budget,' he says. 'I heard this was a good market, so I wanted to check it out.'

On Thursday, Dahl sold out of his 21 whole-grain bread and handed out lots of samples of his other varieties, like Rockin' Rye, Blues Bread and Good Seed.

Teresa Bright of Fairview bought bread, eggs and flowers at the Fairview market on its opening night.

As a resident of Fairview Village, where the market is held, she says she's a regular.

'I've been coming here since I moved here in 2003,' she says. 'It's so convenient. I always get fresh flowers, which are just incredible, and vegetables. And I always buy eggs. Where else can you get eggs that are fresh and not shipped in from across the country?'

The egg lady is Debra Blake, of the Orient area's Show-off Farms. This is her third year as a vendor, and she says her eggs are popular with customers because they come from chickens that 'run around in the sunshine, loose and free.'

Blake likes the Fairview market's intimate feel, although she says a few more food vendors would be a good addition.

'Nobody's going to get rich doing this,' she says. 'But it gets you outside, and you get to talk to interesting people. The camaraderie with the other vendors is nice.'

Bright says she hasn't seen the market grow much over the past several years, but Tuomala says the market is doing well.

'We're rock solid,' he says. 'We're holding in there. We're making a difference.'

Eva Tendollen, recycled jewelry maker and market manager, agrees.

'People are relying more on the market to get their organics,' she says. 'And they're supporting their community.'

Local farmers' markets

Fairview Farmers' Market

From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursdays through Oct. 25, at Northeast Village Street near Fairview City Hall. Features fresh produce, candles, jewelry, bread, eggs, pottery, jellies and massage.

Troutdale Farmers' Market

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 27, at Depot Park, 473 E. Historic Columbia River Highway. Features artwork and crafts sold alongside local fruits and vegetables.

Cascade Locks Farmers' Market

From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sundays now through Oct. 28, at 423 S.W. WaNaPa St. Features fresh produce, handmade crafts and a special co-op booth.

Gresham Farmers' Market

From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, from May 12 through Oct. 27, along Third Street between Miller and Main avenues. Features flowers, fruits, vegetables and crafts. For more information, visit www.gresham

Boring Farmers' Market

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 9, in front of the Boring/Damascus Grange off Highway 212 and Wally Road. Features local produce and berries, as well as honey, jelly, fair-trade coffee, nursery stock, cut flowers and arts and crafts.

Sandy Farmers' Market

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 1, at the intersection of Highway 26 and Hoffman Street. Vendors sell crafts, plants, vegetables and food.