The Seattle PI has an interesting story today about Seattle farmers' markets cannibalizing each other—the city peaked with 19 markets, but is now down to 17 after two folded due to low sales. Farmers are grumbling that there's too many farmers' markets in the city, over-saturating the market.
So does Portland have too many farmers' markets? The Portland area has over 60 (!!) markets, but only six of them are big, official markets run by the Portland Farmers Market, a nonprofit that does not receive any city funding.
Last year, the Farmers' Market grew substantially. The 2010 season saw 700,000 shoppers (a 13 percent increase over 2009) who together spent $7 million (a 19 percent increase over 2009). They also added two markets, one in Pioneer Square and one in Northwest Portland.
On the other hand, one market closed. The Ecotrust Farmers market, which filled the parking lot outside the Ecotrust building on Wednesdays, did not have the attendance and sales that the market-planners expected, so they wound up shutting it down.
Farmers Market spokesewoman Deborah Pleva says that the organization does not believe Portland has reached a saturation point for markets at all. Only three percent of produce purchased in Portland is bought from a farmers market; Pleva says they're aiming to make that more like 10 percent. But the nonprofit doesn't want to overextend itself. There are no current plans to open new weekly locations in Portland, but they will open up a noontime market of prepared-food vendors at Pioneer Square's noontime concert series.