I’ve always loved the farmer’s markets. The sights, sounds, and smells that seem to surround them can be overwhelming but they are wonderful and I love them. I’m going to try to visit several of my favorite markets and take about some of my favorite stands and get some different products, maybe try some new stuff as well. The Forest Grove farmer’s market happens on Wednesday’s and is a pretty good one. It takes place on Main Street and can be tough to find parking if you get there too late – fortunately I arrived at about four pm as I normally get out of work at two thirty – one of the benefits of being an extremely early riser and starting work at six am most days. I parked pretty close and made my way to the entrance start of the farmer’s market – the familiar smells of cooking food, crowds, and fresh produce lingering in the air.
From the north end of Main Street there are several welcoming signs and places where attendees can start their walk through the stands and small shops.
If you’re a fist timer at a farmer’s market there are a few pointers I thought I’d mention:
- Remember to bring cash – most placed won’t accept cards unfortunately.
- Have an idea what you are looking for. There is alot of temptation.
- Remember to ask if the prices are negotiable if you get more than one – lots of vendors like bargaining!
- Bring a durable canvas sack or bag with you. It’ll be much easier than the disposable ones vendors have.
- If you can plan to get a meal at the farmers market – there are lots of good choices there!
- Wander through the market first then decide where to stop only when you’ve seen everything – it’s too late if you spend everything at the first two stands!
I hadn’t been to the First Grove farmer’s market more than once or twice before so it was a pleasant surprise to see how many stands and vendors were there. One of the best things about the farmer’s markets are the local farms that feature their super good – mostly organic and healthy produce. I normally try to support local growers and prefer to get any of the produce I consume from local farms. I know a local farmer who does CSA – which is Community Supported Agriculture and aspires for owning a stand one day but I buy lots of produce from him, but anything he doesn’t make that I need I try my best to get from the farmer’s markets. It’s the best thing next to growing it yourself. There are many may goods that come from the local farms as well – things like strawberries, starter plants, green beans and lots of other veggies. There is quite a bit of variance depending on the season as well – and now for instance is the season for strawberries.
There are also many many other stands that I try to visit that have my favorite items. The first one I always try to visit is the one that has the best hummus I’ve ever had – the individual items are six dollars each. The bags of pita chips are six dollars and the small tubs of hummus are six dollars as well. If you get a variety of four you’ll only pay twenty dollars. I normally save a spare twenty to get two bags of chips and two types of hummus. The folks who work at this stand are super friendly and will always spoil customers with a ton of samples to be sure to try anything that sounds good. I will say that I’ve never had anything that wasn’t absolutely wonderful. As I walked up there was a small line – this stand is always popular and it’s never as issue for me to wait a moment or two, because I love the chips and hummus so much. Some of the flavors are Avocado Cilantro, Cilantro Jalapeño, Fire Roasted Red Pepper, Fire Roasted Garlic and Chive, Olive Tapenade and Garlic, and Tomato Basil. All of the flavors they have for sale are also available to sample to be sure to sample as much as you need to make an informed decision – without abusing the system!
Another one of my favorite stands is the Pie Guy. He seems to be at most of the farmer’s markets I visit and with good reason. The pies he has are amazing. They are super good and are literally meals in themselves. There are quite a variety of pies and they are all crazy good. Some of the flavors are Chocolate, Pecan, Cherry, Rhubarb, and so on. The pies are pretty sugary so might want to make it a desert (I only mention they are meals because I have had a small one as a meal – yes, I’m a terrible example)
The Biltong stand is another one I’ve visited more than once. It is very high quality cured meat that similar (but different) from regular beef jerky. From the Biltong website “Biltong (pron. bill-tong) is a 400-year old traditional South African beef snack, cured in a unique and highly nutritious way. It is different from American Beef Jerky, in both taste and preparation. Biltong USA is the first ever meat processing plant in the world to produce Biltong that is approved, inspected, and passed by the USDA. We are also the very first Biltong processing plant in the world that was approved by any FSIS agency (Food Safety Inspected Services). With no artificial colorings, flavorings, or preservatives, no sodium nitrates or MSG, our Biltong has 16g of protein per oz and is gluten-free (except for our Teriyaki flavor due to the soy sauce).” I’ve tried the biltong quite a few times and I can tell you when I get it at the farmers market at work the biltong has never actually made it past about three pm – when I purchase it at noon. It’s similar to beef jerky but much much higher quality and much better tasting and a much higher quality. Very much worth trying – the vendor has samples and I’m sure you’ll like it as much as I do. Very much recommended.
While I was wandering through I also saw a couple of other fantastic stands – there was a wonderful coffee stand that I talked to the proprietors of for a while – the coffee was amazing and super good. Roasted locally and the owners know the growers and make sure that the beans are grown sustainably and organically. That’s definitely something I can get behind. The coffee tastes amazing too!! Bennett Coffee Roasting Company – Definitely recommended, really nice folks! I also stopped and got some loose leaf tea – as you might not know I’m a huge tea fan (I know giant surprise right!!!) however I’ve never had any kind of loose leaf tea – at home I mostly stick with Lipton and the like. However, I stopped by the TEA stand and had a sample of the peach tea and was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. MMMMMmmmmmm. I usually don’t go for flavored tea or sweetened tea, but this was both and was just fantastic. I ended up getting some of the peach variety and several of the reusable teabags – I suppose if I keep getting this kind of thing I can get some sort of steeping container or something, right? Super excited to brew some ice cold peach tea!!!
There were also several other food stands I saw and thought I’d show here, I already knew where I was going to eat but I thought I’d mention them as that’s part of the farmer’s market experience. At the Forest Grove farmer’s market, there was a Slow Rise Craft Bread stand, the smells there were just fantastic, and the breads looked delicious. It was really tough going past this stand without spending large amounts of money. There was also an old-fashioned hog-dog type stand that I thought looked a little bit out of place outside downtown Chicago. There were some pretty interesting specials: guacamole bacon hotdogs, peanut butter bacon & pickle hamburgers. Sounded quite interesting!! There was also a very well stocked teriyaki stand that had several different varieties of teriyaki dishes. The last place I wanted to mention is a smaller trailer that I see at most of the farmer’s markets I’ve been to – it’s a kettle corn stand and I always see lots of folks around Steve’s Boot Scoot’n Kettle Corn stand. The corn is GMO free and Gluten free, which should make for a rather healthy snack, and there are also samples available so be sure to try some!
As I got ready to leave I had already decided where to eat for dinner – as delicious as the choices for supper were at the farmer’s market, I still needed to try more varieties at Miget’s Island Grill. I talked to Mike again and he was just as personable and kind as he was originally. I can very much recommend this place once again. He and his wife are both super nice folks who are excellent cooks and have a fantastic restaurant. This time I decided to try the chicken adobo and it was every bit as good as the shoyu chicken I’d had the time before – dang, this place is so good!!!!!! This time Mike asked if I wanted the creamy sriracha sauce on the top “Um, yeah!!” Wow. So. Darn. Good.
The Forest Grove farmer’s market is one of the better ones in the area, and the fact that it’s on a week day night is in my opinion a great thing! It’s after work so most folks will be able to visit and get lots of yummy samples, find some fresh produce, and if you’re really lucky, you might be able to listen to some live music. It’s a great experience and worth five Heywillamettes, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the experience.