build a Public Market?
Public Markets define and
nourish a city's soul. Certainly Portland
is not without a soul but we have a missing link between this
most European of Western cities and the bounty of its nearby
agriculture. A connection is forged when urban shoppers know
the source of their food supply and come together to celebrate
the simple, edible transactions of daily life
cities across our country and around the world have thriving
public markets. Portland's
long history of public markets began in 1870 but the city
now has been without a central market for two generations.
Reestablishing a public market can improve the quality
of life in Portland and the surrounding
public market is not a farmers market, though they have many
things in common; a farmers market is seasonal, while a public
market is permanent and year-round; both focus on fresh foods
but a public market may also offer a wider range of prepared
local foods and restaurants; and a permanent public market
can showcase local agriculture for residents and tourists
seven days a week. Regional farmers markets and the proposed
Portland Public Market are all necessary components of a healthy,
sustainable food delivery system for the region.
Portland Public Market will include a rich and colorful array
of stalls featuring fresh produce, local dairy products, artisan
cheeses, local fish, meats and game, fresh cut flowers and
value-added products from pâtes to pastries. A working winery
in the lower level will accent the connection between Portland
and nearby wine-making areas. The Market will also offer classes
by local chefs and nutritionists for children and adults stressing
the value of using ingredients from the local foodshed.
Customers from all income levels, from every ethnic
group and from every part of the city will find top quality
foods sold by authentic, locally owned small businesses.
Portlanders today would find it hard to imagine the city without
its "living room," Pioneer Courthouse Square. Future Portlanders will find it equally hard
to imagine how Portland
ever got by without the envisioned Public Market, the city's
"kitchen and pantry."
will the money come from to build and operate the Market?
combination of public and private funding will be necessary
to build Portland's
Public Market. So far,
the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban
Development have joined the City and the Portland Development
Commission to fund feasibility studies. The non-profit Historic Portland Public Market
Foundation has raised significant funds through various benefit
events and will embark on an aggressive capital campaign as
soon as a site is secured.
it is open for business, the Public Market will receive most
of its operational funding from vendor fees and rentals but
will also require ongoing support from the community.
can I help?
visit the Market's website and provide your contact information
so the Market's volunteers can keep you informed about its
progress. From time
to time the need to write letters and/or testify at public
meetings in support of the Market may be requested.
And, as always, your generous tax-deductible donations - small
and large - are most welcome. Please make your check payable to the "Historic
Portland Public Market Foundation" and mail it to:
needs a public market, WHAT will it provide, WHO will use it, WHO
Public Market would:
unique, high-quality shopping for nearby residents, and spur
the development of additional housing nearby
shoppers from all over the region to the neighborhood on a regular
encourage the growth of small agricultural businesses
profits for developers of the Market and for businesses which
lease space there
top-quality produce, meals, fish, spices, and artisan-produced
foods available year-round
as a community educational resource to teach Portland about
our agricultural heritage and the wisdom of sustainable farming/gardening.
a community resource that is welcoming to people of all income
national attention to Portland in the fields of urban planning,
architecture, agriculture, small business, tourism, food and
Pike Place Market and Vancouver, B.C.'s, Granville
Island Public Market provide valuable models for the Portland
Public Market. The mainstay of a market’s success is local residents,
who value high-quality merchandise, excellent customer service and
multiple, pleasant social interactions.
popular Portland Farmers Market, founded in 1992, shows the depth
of urban consumer interest in buying direct from farmers. It is
open twice a week in two successful downtown locations. The solid,
long-term success of markets in Beaverton, Gresham and Vancouver
also demonstrate the region’s strong farm-to-market culture.
and competition are the essential factors in attracting local residents
to a market. The utmost care should be taken to avoid over-familiar
national chains, second-rate fast food, cheesy T-shirt shops, and
anything else that makes the market resemble a shopping mall or
a tourist trap. (Do Bostonians go to Faneuil
Hall, or New Yorkers to South
Street Seaport?) Ideally, all tenants would be one-of-a-kind,
or at least small local “chains” (i.e. Pastaworks, Coffee People,
Newman’s), devoted to quality and that have a following here.
It is important
to remember that a public market is not merely a boutique for the
well-to-do. If well served by public transit and an advantageous
location, it can be an important health resource for low-income
people who cannot travel to farm stands in the country. In season,
locally grown farm produce compares favorably in price with supermarket
offerings, yet far outshines the competition in taste and quality.
In addition to the opportunities to provide healthier, higher-quality
food for a reasonable price, the Market can serve as an educational
resource on promoting healthier diets for families and nursing mothers,
serve as an incubator for microenterprises and provide meaningful
skill development for the unemployed. The creation of a Public Market
will be an opportunity for fresh food, business growth and creative
ideas for all Portland residents. In Seattle, the Pike
Place Market Foundation funds a coupon program allowing low-income
residents to purchase directly from the market farmers, and surplus
food goes daily to a food bank.
A public market
with high-quality tenants and strong local appeal draws large numbers
of tourists. Pike Place welcomes nine million visitors a year, and
Granville Island has become one of Vancouver's most popular tourist
stops, even with little direct promotion on the market's part.