field trip: Milwaukie Farmers Market

farmers market carrots, Portland, OR

Last Sunday, Jeff and I met up at the Milwaukie Farmers Market in search of ladybugs, of which they were out. Instead, I brought home leeks for soup, bib lettuce for sandwiches, cilantro for pesto, spinach for a big lentil salad, red d'Anjou pears from Hood River for dessert, and peonies for my bedside vase. Because northwest growing seasons are shorter than in more southerly parts of the country, Portland's farmers markets open in early May and close in late October. But in those months, they bring the city together to celebrate home-grown harvests and local producers.

Though I haven't yet visited all the neighborhood farmers markets in Portland, the Milwaukie Farmers Market is one of my favorites, nestled in the center of downtown Milwaukie, just south of Portland proper in Clackamas County where Jeff was born and raised. That means we can expect every time to run into someone he knows. Sunday, I met a friend of his from high school, with her family, and the aunt and uncle of one of his best friends—meaning the Milwaukie Sunday Market, at least for locals, comes with free hugs.

hanging annuals, Milwaukie Farmers Market, Oregon

Farmers markets, like thrift shops, contain the unexpected, the heart of their charm. A couple years ago at this market, I picked up off the sidewalk a sprig of a flowering annual that had broken off somebody's hanging basket. I took it home and stuck it in a glass of water on a windowsill, planning to enjoy the little purple flowers for a few days until it died. But instead it started sprouting roots. Eventually I gave it to Jeff, who planted it in a little pot, where it lived on his deck until finally conking out in the cold late last fall.

Voted "Best Small Farmers Market of 2012" by the Oregonian, the Milwaukie Sunday Farmers Market sells homemade sausages and local cheeses, hot coffee and freshly squeezed juice, handmade bread and local honey, ladybugs and worm tea (for pest control), plants of all kinds for home gardening, handmade baskets, seasonal vegetables, fruits, and flowers, handmade jewelry, and much more.

City Hall, Milwaukie, Oregon

Masonic Lodge, Milwaukie, Oregon

Strolling around outside the market boundary, at the Friends of the Ledding Library Book Booth in the City Hall fire bay, I picked up for $2 LaGrone's Basic Conversational Spanish printed in 1967 (something for the bucket list). A local club was also holding a fundraising estate sale in the Masonic Lodge, so we popped in towards closing time. Spry old folks had been clearing out their garages. I bought another complete set of Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needles for just $2 (when they retail new for $45), along with three pieces of old linen cloth to make my own fringed kitchen towels ($1 each); seeing a kindred spirit, the ladies threw in a bunch of vintage knitting patterns for free. Jeff bought an old green metal contraption to take camping that winds newspapers into logs.

old Ledding Library book drop, Milwaukie, Oregon

Then we walked over to the Ledding Library, impressive in its compact organization, cute children's section downstairs where kids were playing oversized checkers, plump-chaired reading nook with a view of a shady creek, and even its dictionaries laid open on a large stand, reference-ready. The Friends of the Ledding Library were also selling leftover plants from their Spring Plant Sale inside, a bit worn by now but cheap! After, we walked down and around the corner of the building to watch the baby ducks and geese and a squirrel stretched out on an arbor, sunbathing.

geese and ducks, Ledding Library grounds, Milwaukie, OR

Impressionist duck, Ledding Library pond, Milwaukie, Oregon

Downtown Milwaukie also boasts a highly rated chocolate shop (sadly not open on Sundays), an art-gallery collective, coffee shops, restaurants, antique malls, and the headquarters of Dark Horse Comics, which owns most of the downtown area, keeping it afloat. Milwaukie's downtown location just east of the Willamette River is near prime riverfront, so it's too bad the water treatment plant hogs the view. Once the new MAX line opens in late 2015, maybe Milwaukie residents will further embrace and expand the gentrifying downtown and riverfront and snub their many strip malls.  

Milwaukie, Oregon, sidewalk sign

Enchanté chocolate shop, Milwaukie, Oregon

May roses, Milwaukie, Oregon

Dark Horse Comics window display, Milwaukie, Oregon

spring leaves, Milwaukie, Oregon

Under 300 Gallery, Milwaukie, Oregon

drinking fountain message, Milwaukie, Oregon


  1. Anonymous27/5/13 12:10

    hi-just a note to say I really like your blog, appreciate the portland, thrifty vibe.

  2. Thanks so much for reading!


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