This coming Sunday, the Lents International Farmers Market will kick off this season’s monthly celebration days with an Eastern European Day Celebration. What sets this market festival apart, however, is that the Lents Market has made a commitment to the ethnic communities of Portland right in their own neighborhood. Lents encompasses a large community of lower-income residents, many of whom are recent immigrants. Populations of Hmong, Eastern Europeans and Russians, Hispanics, Cambodians, and Somali-Bantu combine to make Lents one of the most diverse parts of the city. While these demographics have historically been under-served in their fair access to local and sustainable foods, the Lents Market is dedicated towards improving neighborhood food security. Zenger Farm, the group that helps run the Lents Market, has offered workshops in small-scale agriculture for immigrant farmers, assisting them in connecting with restaurants and markets and gaining economic stability. By sponsoring the Lents International Farmers Market, Zenger Farm has brought good, healthful food to a low income community, grown locally by neighborhood residents.
Beyond the social gains of the market, Lents puts to rest two commonly held misconceptions about local food: 1) that farming can’t coexist with urban spaces and 2) that eating locally means abandoning unusual ethnic ingredients, like Chinese broccoli. Many of the producers selling at the market farm plots either in Portland or in close proximity to the urban core. Their products, meanwhile, prove that incredibly local food can depart dramatically from most people’s preconceptions of Oregon produce. Throughout the season, the stands at the Lents Market vend such diverse produce as bitter melon and cilantro roots, alongside squash, carrots, and greens. These flavors illustrate the great diversity of products that our region can grow and they begin to show how a community can support itself through securing access to local foods.
Join Slow Food Portland this Sunday, July 13th at 10:30 am for a tour of the market vendors with Market Manager Jill Kuehler of Zenger Farms.
Visit the Lents International Farmers Market every Sunday from 9 am until 2 pm, June 15 until October 12. The Market is located at SE 92nd and SE Foster Road.
For more information on the Lents International Farmers Market and assistance programs for immigrant farmers, check out: