Say 'hello' to the market season
- Shoppers will find variety of produce, crafts at two Gresham markets from May through October
We are fortunate to live in an area loaded with choices for the cream of the crop in locally grown seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers. And from May through October, open-air market devotees know Saturdays are spent enjoying a cup o Joe, soaking up live entertainment and meeting the neighbors who grow our food.
This year, for the first time, Gresham plays hosts to two such venues. The iconic Gresham Farmers Market returns for its 28th season in the downtown core area, while the Gresham Saturday Market will kick off its inaugural season on the corner of Northeast Burnside Road and Eastman Parkway. Combined, more than 130 growers, farmers and local artisans will greet shoppers beginning Saturday, May 10, at the two locations, offering their best in farm-fresh goods and wonderful handcrafted items for the home and garden.
Let us introduce you to two of the vendors youll meet this year.
Gresham Farmers Market
When Linda-Woods Taylor and husband Jim bought their three acres of land in Boring in 2004, the property came with a 1912 farmhouse and a boatload of overgrown blackberry bushes.
In the middle of the out-of-control vegetation was a small brown log cabin, housing one narrow room with two bunks and a few storage shelves. The Taylors learned through neighborhood lore that the cabin was built in the mid-1800s, reputedly by Sam Barlow.
Linda admits she has no documentation to back up that claim, but today, the little cabin serves as a springboard for a booming business the Taylors call the Little Brown House Herbary.
The couple got into the herb arena mostly by accident. Looking to offset steep property taxes, Linda stumbled upon the possibility of a financial break if the land was used for agricultural purposes.
I was a city girl, Linda said. I wanted something that didnt require much of me. I planted three flats of herbs at first, since the requirement for the tax break was like $600 at the time. That first year didnt go well. But since then, its grown and grown.
Grown, indeed. When the Taylors arrive at the Gresham Farmers Market for their sixth season this weekend, their sales racks will contain only a fraction of the 12,000 plants they nurture each year. Along with conventional cooking herbs, such as basil, chives and parsley, Linda grows several varieties used for medicinal purposes true valerian (also called Poor Mans Valium) and marshmallow (which can be used for an upset stomach). Marshmallow? Who knew it was a plant to begin with?
The Little Brown House Herbary is a well-balanced operation between the couple. Linda tends to the plants, while Jim is in charge of the facilities, meaning details like the water system and heat in the herbarys three greenhouses. They both use a natural approach to the growing process, as evidenced with 8,500 gallons of captured rainwater for irrigation, and Lindas secret soil recipe, which includes composted grass clippings from the farm. The pesticide they use is made with oil from bark of the neem tree found in South America.
All of our plants are certified naturally grown, Linda said. What that means is that we are certified through a national program for farmers who dont have the money for organic certification.
As Lindas herb garden began to gain ground, Jim enrolled in a class at Mt. Hood Community College to learn more about small agricultural operations. How to Grow Plants for Fun and Profit turned out to be a wealth of information, he said.
It was good information on climate zones, wholesale sources and other growers associations, Jim said. I also learned how much you can cram into a small space.
A descendent in a long line of Klamath Falls farmers, Jim says he had a premonition about a national economic recession shortly before it happened in 2008. He planted an orchard, which now boasts peaches, apricots, 11 varieties of apples and four varieties of cherries, and one day may become a U-pick.
I saw everything coming and I wanted the farm to be self-sufficient if we had to survive, he said. Thats how the orchard came about. But a U-pick is a lot of time waiting for people to show up. With the market, its a point of sale. So we may take fruit to the market some day too. It may come to that.
Linda calls her kitchen mostly vegetarian, meaning she cooks with the herbs she grows. She routinely shares her recipes with shoppers at the market and enjoys helping novice herb growers get started. But in a small way, Linda said, the business is giving back to that little brown cabin that started it all.
These suckers are hard to grow, she said, laughing. Theyre temperamental with temperature and water. Its hard to stay on top of the weather. But I love it. I really think were honoring this farm by doing this.
Gresham Saturday Market
Jake Bissell, owner of Two Guys and Grill, stood his ground once, with a customer who was skeptical of Bissells claim for serving authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
He told me he was a truck driver and drove in and out of Philadelphia all the time, Bissell said. He said nobody could compete with (iconic Philly cheesesteak eateries) Ginos or Pats. I told him I would buy the sandwich back from him if he didnt like it. He bought one and came back a little while later and bought four more. Thats why I have a money-back guarantee on that sandwich.
Bissell is no novice as a vendor at community events and festivals. For the past 13 years, he has hauled equipment and tents from McMinnville to Vernonia, peddling everything from his grilled sandwiches to Hawaiian shaved ice. Two Guys and a Grill was a joint venture between Bissell and his brother, after the pair had attended several festivals as research for a food cart business of their own. Not only were they surprised by the repetition among food vendors at each event, but Bissell was appalled at the lack of good sanitation practices employed by workers.
The minimum health requirement is two buckets one for hot water and one for cold, he said. But we saw vendors using a water container with a spigot to wash their hands. Thats not sanitary. So we developed a hand washing station for our booth that uses a foot-control for water flow and cleanliness. It doesnt waste water and you dont recontaminate your hands. My motto is, Be safe, have fun and serve the customer. If you cant do that, you cant work with me.
Bissell is a former salesman for the Salad Master company, a purveyor of cookware, and credits that experience with the foundation for his recipes. His Fresh Seven Ingredient Salad is a refreshing take on what most folks would refer to as coleslaw, but with a surprising addition of julienned apples and a homemade super secret honey mustard dressing.
But what Two Guys and a Grill does best, Bissell said, are the grilled sandwiches. His signature may be the Philly cheesesteak, but the menu also includes an a la carte offering of salads, grilled veggie sandwiches and a kids meal, with a grilled cheese sandwich, juice box and bag of chips for $4.
The grilled veggie sandwich isnt strictly vegetarian, Bissell said. I grill it on the same grill as the other sandwiches, so it cant be called vegan, but its really good.
Die-hard Philly cheesesteak fans may be disappointed to learn Bissell doesnt use Cheez-Whiz on his sandwich. He prefers white Swiss/American cheese for its melting ability and creamy addition to the meat.
I had a customer who asked for Cheez-Whiz once, so I bought a can, Bissell said. I never used it again. I really like the sliced cheese. Its so gooey and delicious. The cheese just melts right there on the grill.
Bissell is a Gresham resident whos thrilled he wont be schlepping his booth very far for his first appearance in a local market. Though he and his brother went their separate ways a few years ago, Bissell is retaining the business name for the next generation.
I was a one-person operation until my son was born, Bissell said. Hes 6 now and hes the second guy. He just doesnt know it yet.
If you go
Gresham Farmers Market 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday from May 10 through Oct. 25, Northwest Third Street between Miller and Main avenues in downtown Gresham. More than 80 vendors will offer homegrown fruits, vegetables and flowers, along with products and services by local craftspeople. The market is dog-friendly, but furry friends must be on a leash at all times.
Gresham Saturday Market 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday from May 10 to Oct. 25, 440 N.W. Burnside Road, in the Kmart parking lot. Fifty-plus vendors have signed on for the new venue, which will include farm-fresh produce, flowers and the works of local artisans. Ample parking and easy access.
Troutdale Farmers Market 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 25, in the Rail Depot Museum parking lot, 473 E. Historic Columbia River Highway.
Fairview Open-Air Market 3-8 p.m. Thursdays, 1300 Village St., in front of City Hall.Add a comment