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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Behind the Scenes at the (official) Summer's First Farmer's Market

Posted on Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 12:10 PM

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It's sunrise at Dave's Killer Bread factory. Outside the sky is pale blue and pink and Mt. Hood is picture perfect. Inside, the light is florescent but the air is pleasantly intoxicating -- my eyes droop at 5:30a.m. but every breath is a pick-me-up of warm bread and grains. "Bread is a fickle mistress," says my friend Dan, the Farmer's Market manager for Dave's Killer Bread. Today is the summer solstice, so that makes this morning the first Farmer's Market of the official summer. It's going to be big.

Bread sellers Dan, Helen and Jessica load the truck with 1,000 loaves of Dave's all-vegan, all-organic brand which was all baked wrapped and sliced yesterday.

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Black Sabbath blasts from the truck speakers as we pull onto the highway. It's 6:22 a.m.

The Beaverton Market Master waves the truck into a small parking space between tents. She laughs when I ask about her badge. "I'm sheriff in these parts!" she says.

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By 7:30, we're back across town, pushing loaves of Good Seed and Peace Bombs under PSU's trees. As it warms up and the bread kids unfurl the Killer Bread banner, the market is a crazy mix of smells - barbecue smoke, fresh flowers and truck exhaust. The bread booth is wedged between a delicious pesto seller and a wine stand. It's classy corner.

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The people working the booths at the downtown market run an extensive and good-natured barter economy among themselves. Pork Man negotiates with Pizza Man, swapping a slice of cheese for a barbecue sandwich. Two loaves of spelt gets us four biscuits in gravy. Dave's bread has gotten some good press lately, bumping up its trade value.

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Around 8:30, more and more faces begin showing up. Soon, there's a crowd snacking on samples and handing over $5 a loaf. While they're cute and all, the markets are actually a major part of our local food economy: between 12,000-15,000 people pass through the market every Saturday and farmers at the four downtown markets netted $5 million last summer. "People go apeshit for this stuff," said Dan, "This is bread you can shake a stick at."


posted by Sarah Mirk, edited 8:55pm

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