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Microenterprise-trained business owners bring sabor to booths

With a plethora of Mexican herbs, produce and traditional prepared dishes, the Forest Grove Farmers Market is often recognized for having a Latino “flair.” That’s because the market acts as a small business incubator for participants in Adelante Mujeres’ sustainable farming and microenterprise development program.

Last year, the nonprofit expanded to support entrepreneurs who want to sell prepared foods or launch catering businesses. In partnership with the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center, participants can now access commercial kitchen space to produce traditional culinary delights.

Five Adelante entrepreneurs are now using the kitchen and selling at the farmers market. Here is more about each business and how they add to the diversity of products market-goers can find each week:

n Don Felipe Foods, Salud Gonzalez and Angelica Pizano, Toluca, Mexico: “I am a welder by day and chef by night,” Salud explained as he described his journey perfecting his green chorizo, an artisan Mexican sausage. Salud and his wife, Angelica, produce both red and green varieties which traditionally come from Toluca, Mexico. As a child, Salud remembers seeing roadside vendors offering green chorizo which is made with spinach, peppers, pumpkin seeds, and other spices. Now he shares the tradition with others who love this mouth-watering chorizo.

n La Popular, Araceli De la Cruz, Jalisco Mexico: “My mom had a small business in Mexico and I was always helping her cook, sell and everything else,” said De La Cruz. Using organic ingredients and local produce whenever possible, De La Cruz offers birria, a Mexican meat stew, sweet corn tamales, tostada salads, gorditas de nata (a Mexican style English muffin) and aguas frescas (fruit juices). With a full-time job and two children, De La Cruz sometimes gets only a few hours of sleep. “But I know I need to dedicate myself to this so that one day I will be able to do what I love full time,” she said.

n La Surianita, Carmen Alvarado, Michoacán Mexico: “I always liked to cook. I never did it because I had to; I did it because I love it,” Carmen Alvarado explained of her catering business. At the market, Alvarado sells tacos, huaraches (a tortilla shaped like a sandal and loaded with toppings), cookies and aguas frescas. She makes all her tortillas by hand and often uses ingredients from her home garden. Alvarado began selling her cookies in 2009, but when the commercial kitchen program opened last year, she was able to expand her business.

n Sweets & Desserts by Morales, Guadalupe Morales, Michoacán Mexico: Guadalupe Morales has been preparing empanadas — pastries stuffed with a variety of sweet or savory ingredients — and other treats for more than 35 years. At the market, Morales offers a wide variety of flavors, including coconut, strawberry, pineapple, raspberry and even sweet potato empanadas. She also sells cookies, tamarind paste, marshmallow figures and hand-crafts.

— Kaely Summers is manager of the Forest Grove Farmers Market. Next week’s article will highlight Tamales by Lupe, the fifth Adelante entrepreneur selling at the market.

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