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Low Barrier Farmers Markets

October 20, 2021

Most farmers markets in the Portland metro area are considered “high-barrier.” This means that for farmers to sell their produce, it must be well packaged and, as a result, high priced. The consumers at these markets in Portland are looking for produce with packaging standards that they might see at high end grocery stores such as New Seasons and Market of Choice.

A “lower-barrier” model is the The People’s Market at Rockwood, a farmers market that is by and for immigrants, refugees, people of color, and other consumers that do not normally participate in typical Portland area farmers markets.

In Rockwood this summer, 50 people had their first entrepreneurial experience. This means that they tried their hand at making or selling produce, crafts or hot food and generated about $75,000 in sales.

One of the best advantages to low-barrier markets is that they don’t need to measure up to the fancy packing of the Portlandia markets. A farmer can unload from his or her truck into simple bins that shoppers can sort through to make their purchase. This helps maximize their profits while also keeping the costs low for people who live in communities where fresh produce is often not available.

The Rockwood Food System Collaboratives member organizations and businesses created this market. Our role at the Rockwood CDC was:

  • to keep the collaborative going, and
  • support these new entrepreneurs with coaching, stipends, and marketing assistance.

We also raised a significant amount of money so that we could get this new system launched. And yes, we are going to need more funding in 2022 to help it thrive. Eventually, our goal is that this market will pay for itself.

You can read more about this kind of work and how you can support it at the Rockwood Food Systems Collaborative website.

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