Think of the vegetables in a Thanksgiving meal: Creamy mashed potatoes soaked in gravy. Sweet potatoes drizzled in syrup and brown sugar. Steamed squash slathered in butter.
Forest Grove’s Indoor Farmers Market offers all the nutritional accents to any holiday meal. Located at Elks Lodge, the market will run on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. until Dec. 22. Though the outdoor Farmers Market closed late October, few realize the indoor market offers just as much local variety as its outdoor counterpart.
Entering the indoor market, one of the first vendors to catch the eye is organic garlic producer Gordon Dana from Three D Ranch. With 9 different garlic bulbs sniff samples, Dana walks customers through the subtle, powerful, and even sweet scents of each sample. His favorite strong scent is the Slovenian bulb.
He describes the scent as warm, almost like it’s a little bit of a teaser. “It’s like sticking your hand in fire and not getting burned,” he said, as he probes the bulb with a toothpick and brings it to his nose.
Along with Three D Ranch are other market newcomers like Schoch Dairy & Creamery and Puppernickel — a specialty doggie bakery. Besides produce, the market also carries value-added products like loose leaf teas, pastries, soap, beeswax candles, dog treats, wine, wreaths and hummus.
Every Farmers Market season is a little different. Depending on the weather, the types of produce available can change. Inevitably, Summers gets questions every year about where produce like avocados or oranges can be found.
“We’re not California, and we’re not Florida,” she laughs. “We have locally grown product that includes things like winter squash, potatoes, onions, shallots, or cabbage.”
Yet Summers acknowledges it can be hard to know what’s being locally grown and what’s being imported, especially when any product can be found on supermarket shelves. Eating seasonally and locally is a very different way of eating, she says. Her eating habits depend on the growing conditions of that year and what produce is available. “It’s a very different eating style if you want to make a lot of what you’re eating locally produced. It’s like a treasure hunt or a jigsaw puzzle,” she said.
According to Summers, the indoor market brings in between 200-500 people a week, considerably less than the outdoor market’s 1500-4000 people a week. Yet, many of the people at the outdoor market are just strolling through or are looking for some entertainment, says Summers. At the indoor market, many go to buy specific produce and products. “At Adelante, we’re always trying to find ways to continue to provide access to fresh local foods and [the market] is helping us serve that purpose,” she said.
Watching the community come together to support family-owned small businesses and locally-produced food is what Summers enjoys most about being Farmers Market Coordinator.
“The market community is about celebrating the love of delicious foods,” she said. “Learning about the different techniques to produce food is really a joy.”