Buying local food in downtown Portland just got more convenient.
Two weeks ago, the Portland Farmers Market added another day, with a new crop of farmers who intend to set up shop from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday in Monument Square. This is in addition to the long-running markets on Saturdays in Deering Oaks and Wednesdays in Monument Square.
Portland shoppers now have the option of buying local food direct from the source three days a week, which is one day closer to becoming serious competition for the supermarket chains that lure consumers with the convenience of daily hours and huge selections.
Last Monday, there were nine vendors in the square, but as the season progresses, the market will grow to include more than 20 farms.
The market’s expansion to three days comes as a result of the number of farmers who wanted a spot at either the Saturday or Wednesday markets and have been languishing on the waiting list.
Stephanie O’Neil of Tulips Cupcakery, based at her vegetable and flower farm in North Yarmouth, spearheaded the effort. She uses local butter, eggs, fruits and vegetables to make the cupcakes.
“I went to a couple meetings with the city and the farmers that sell on Wednesday and Saturday,” O’Neil said. “And I found out there was a waiting list of 30 farmers. So I volunteered to start a Monday market.”
She contacted the other farmers on the waiting list and easily filled the available spots in the square. One of the vendors who agreed to participate is Debra Hahn of Hahn’s End, which sells aged cow’s milk cheeses.
“Initially, I applied for the Saturday market,” Hahn said. “But they said there’s not enough room at the Saturday market.”
Hahn said business on Monday has been slow so far.
“It’s hard to start a new market,” Hahn said. “It takes a while for people to even realize we’re here.”
“People aren’t expecting a Monday market,” said Monday market vendor Kathy Yoder of Yoder Heirlooms. “So they’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
The shoppers who have shown up appreciate the diversity of products being sold at the Monday market, which plans to operate through November.
Wellington-based Yellow Rose Farm sells naturally raised pork, eggs and raw milk butter. More dairy products abound at the Townhouse Creamery stand, which offers cheese and yogurt made in Whitefield from cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Middle Intervale Farm from Bethel sells hamburger, steak, vegetables and maple syrup.
Come late summer, North Yarmouth-based Serendipity Acres (which also sells at the other two Portland markets) will have organic lamb, but right now is offering vegetables and pasture-raised poultry.
In a few weeks, greenhouse-grown tomatoes will be the hot product at Plainview Farm’s stand, where vegetables and potted plants are currently for sale.
For folks looking for decorative or edible greenery, Full Bloom Container Gardens sells pre-potted and custom-made flower and herb gardens.
“I think this is very exciting and much needed,” said shopper Gael May McKibben of Portland, who happened upon the market as she was walking through the square. “I try to go Saturday and occasionally on Wednesday. Now I have to put Monday on my schedule.”
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]