A publication of the Cedar Mill Business Association
Volume 1, Issue 6


June 2003

Fresh berries and corn and tomatoes, oh my!

Cedar Mill-Sunset Farmers’ Market begins its fifth year

Every Saturday morning during the summer and into early fall, shoppers can buy the wonderful fresh produce that we’re blessed with here in the Northwest directly from local farmers in the Sunset Mall parking lot near Safeway, at Murray and Cornell.

The Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market was started in 1998 by Leilani Esping. She was a Cedar Mill resident who wanted to foster more community spirit among the rapidly growing neighborhoods in the area. She established the Market as a Saturday summertime community destination, operating first — with the gracious support of Bales Thriftway and the Findley families — in the parking lot between the Cedar Mill Community Library and HiSchool Pharmacy.

When construction for the library expansion and the subsequent need for more parking made it necessary for the Market to move, closing down was not considered as an option. Esping and a handful of volunteers worked to build the market and keep it going even as it looked for a new home. In 2000 they opened at the Sunset Mall parking lot near Safeway, at Murray and Cornell. Pan Pacific Properties, the Mall’s operator, and Safeway’s management have supported the effort.

The Market has just begun its third season at this location, and this year they’re adding “Sunset” to the name to help people remember that they’re across from Sunset High School, near the Sunset Highway, and in the Sunset Mall. When Esping moved to McMinnville a couple of years ago, Market management was turned over to two “faithful” volunteers, Rhonnda Edmiston and Dina Gross. “We’re hoping to stay, but permission is granted year by year,” says Gross.

Volunteers have always been crucial to the Market’s operation. There’s an ongoing need for people who want to get involved in something worthwhile, have fun, meet their neighbors and get the jump on any exciting produce!

Volunteer activities include some behind-the-scenes work, including advertising and marketing to help get the word out and scheduling for vendors and musicians. If you’re an early riser, they always need help setting up at 6 AM, and then folks are needed for the takedown from 1-2 PM. Throughout the morning volunteers help shoppers find what they’re looking for, they help customers carrying purchases, and just generally, well, help! If you think you might like to get involved, sign up at the Market or call or email Dina Gross (dina@thegnar.org, 503-617-1719).

The CMSFM is one of a number of farmers’ markets around Oregon who belong to the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association. “In 2002, 52 communities within the state enjoyed the benefits of a farmers’ market. Recent estimates indicate that more than 1000 Oregon farmers participate in farmers’ markets each year and that farmers’ markets attract more than 90,000 people each week during the peak summer months,” states the group on their website. Visit www.oregonfarmersmarkets.org./cust/producetable.html for information on what’s available when. (NOTE: This information is general and may not apply to what’s at CMSFM on any given Saturday.)

In addition to produce, vendors offer live plants including ornamentals, natives, and vegetables, specialty gourmet food items (did you know that’s one of Oregon’s biggest exports?) and a variety of locally produced artisan items. Last year these included everything from quilts to lawn ornaments and furniture.

The Master Gardener program has experts onsite each week to answer gardening questions. There’s food available to eat at the tables down the center of the market aisle, and live music most days. Activities are also scheduled for kids, including face painting and balloon animals. It’s a great place to meet up with friends from around the area.

If you love bargains like I do, take a chance and arrive near the end of the day when many of the produce vendors would rather make a deal than carry home produce that’s been in the sun all morning. Last year I picked up a huge box of Bing cherries for under $10. I canned them, dried them, made chutney, and of course we all ate fresh cherries until they came out our ears, but I only lost a few dozen and felt very satisfied with my thriftiness! This only works if you’re willing to take whatever’s available. Many of the vendors run out of some items before the Market closes, so if you really want something in particular, get there early.

To get a booth at the Market, prospective vendors fill out an application and submit it to the Market’s board, which determines their acceptance. Gross says, “The vendors pretty much take care of themselves, we just organize a place for them to do their thing, and then juggle the schedule of who can make it when and where we’ll put them.” A 10’ x 10’ space is $25, and non-profits may participate for free.

Visit the Market’s website for updated schedule information at www.cmfmarket.org