The area's largest farmers market is gearing up for the opening of its winter market.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Carrots and potatoes are among the most abundant winter crops at the Beaverton Farmers Market.The Beaverton Farmers Market doesn't open for the winter season until Saturday, Feb. 3 — but things are already looking up compared to this time last year.

"So far the weather's been fairly cooperative," said Ginger Rapport, who runs the market and goes by the title of Market Master. "The only food you have in the winter is grown in greenhouses, and the snow collapsed them last year. So we had very little produce, but we'll have a lot more this year."

As Rapport and her team prepare to reopen for the year — once the winter market opens, the Beaverton Farmers Market runs every week until Thanksgiving — she took some time to speak with The Times about what market devotees and novices alike can look forward to.

Produce and more

"This is the time when you get out your crockpot, and it's a great time to do braised dishes, pot roast with root vegetables — turnips, potatoes, carrots," Rapport said. She added that thanks to this year's relatively mild winter, shoppers can expect an abundance of "greens, kale and chard, onions, winter squash, potatoes, broccoli rabe — whole, hearty crops."

The market also sells pasture-raised beef, pork and lamb from Aberdeen, Wash.-based Lily Lane Farm, which "does really well in the winter market, because people are really wanting to cook then."

Market-goers who enjoy the experiential aspect of hitting the summer market — the live music and performances, the alcoholic beverages, the already-prepared food — might miss those live performances, because "you just don't know what the weather will be like," Rapport said.

But there still will be plenty of alcoholic beverage vendors around. Rapport recommends grabbing a bottle of orangecello from Drop Shop Distillery, to add a little extra warmth to your winter mugs of hot chocolate.

And beyond meat, seafood and produce, the market offers an abundance of grocery-like items, like cheese from Helvetia Creamery, which Rapport describes as "very tiny, like four cows."

There are also sweet treats like chocolate, brittle and toffee; freshly baked bread and other glutenous offerings from local bakeries; wild mushrooms; and even natural skincare products from two new vendors, Landia Oregancis and Rainbow Organics.

"One thing we found is that our customers are equally as concerned with what they put on their bodies as what they put in their bodies," Rapport said.

For those who prefer eating to cooking, pre-made options at the winter market will abound. Soup is always a popular seasonal option, especially pozole, a hominy-based Mexican stew.

"With the pozole, you can take that base and add all the fun stuff to it that you want," Rapport said. "Like, I'm a vegetarian, so I wouldn't add chicken or pork to it, but I'd add avocado and tortilla strips and some cotija cheese and make it a really hearty dish. And it's so easy because the base soup has already been made for you."

Looking ahead

Around the holidays, a Beaverton Farmers Market mainstay suffered a major setback. Pony Espresso, a coffee truck run by 15-year market veteran Bruce Linder, was destroyed because of an internal explosion.

Linder was able to raise enough on GoFundMe — over $34,000 in 24 hours alone — to invest in a new truck. He'll be back at the market by summer, and a coffee company from Gresham will fill in for him in the meantime.

"That was a real loss to everyone," Rapport said. "We were really heartbroken, so we're glad he decided to try to resurrect it. He's an institution — to lose him would just be horrible."

Earning a permanent spot on at the Beaverton Farmers Market is a major coup. Rapport said she'll probably turn away about a hundred vendor applicants just this year.

"There will be a lot of great product in there, but I just don't have room for it, or it'll be a duplication of something I already have," she explained.

And once the weather changes, Rapport plans to encourage market-goers to use ridesharing — the market recently partnered with Lyft — to reduce the crowded parking options. She also hopes to launch a program that will help new market entrepreneurs thrive, but that's still in the planning stages.

But for now, the winter market is set to open at 10 a.m. next Saturday. If you're craving a little color during the dark Oregon winter, the Beaverton Farmers Market may be just the place for you.

"Food is so visual," Rapport said. "When you see a giant pile of perfect carrots, it gets your juices flowing: what can I make with that?"

Blair Stenvick
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