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A Q&A with Market Q creator Ali Williams

Portlanders really appreciate spring and summer. It’s a time when the rain combines with the emerging sun to create amazing fecundity and joy. Much of this is reflected in our love of Farmer’s Markets. The rest of the world may be freaking out about the lack of produce harvests and rising gas prices, but we can grow just about anything temperate in the space between the sidewalk and the street. That’s right, the PacNW is fertile.

Now the queer community wants in on the veggie, flowers, artistan action (well, in a more overt way that is) with our very own Farmer’s Market at the Q Center. Beginning this weekend, Market Q, will set up shop in front of the gay and lesbian community center every Saturday from 8 to 1. And it’ll be worth fighting your hangover to brave the half sunshine half drizzle of Mississippi Ave community shopping, both gay and straight.

As part of my excited anticipation I talked with Market Q creator Ali Williams about what kind of vendors we expect to see and what which edibles will make our soil-loving hearts go aflutter.

qPDX: What made you want to start a Farmer’s market at Q Center?

AW: I had a few different ideas of things I wanted to do with Q Center to bring the community closer together within the Mississippi neighborhood. Market Q was just the first one I went for. I think Mississippi Ave is such a great location, and it is perfect for a farmers market. Portland has a big farmers market scene and I just wanted to create another opportunity to bring local produce and goods to Q Center’s block.

Being within walking distance to me, I’m definitely stoked. Who and/or what kind of vendors will be at the market opener? Produce? Prepared food? Artists? Other?

We will have a variety of different vendors throughout the season, from farms, organizations, and nonprofits, to backyard gardens. We have been fortunate enough to partner up with some great people this inaugural season.  Including Gee Creek Farm, Canby Asparagus Farm, Heidi Ho Organics, The Fresh Pot, Hungry Heart Cupcakes, Blue Collar Baking Company, Lady Fern Soap, Emerald Petals, Create Plenty Org. (Yellow Shelf Project), Urban League of Portland, Victory Gardens, Dancing Chicken Farm, South Barlow Berry Farm, In Other Words, and I expect many more as the season progresses.

What vendors are you particularly excited about?

I am honestly excited about all of them, especially the nonprofits and start-up farms or gardens from the local organizations, i.e. Urban League and Victory Gardens.

What do you wish you could see more of?

I am looking forward to berry time and tomatoes…I love tomatoes. I am from Arkansas and we have those all season. I am slowly getting used to the change in growing seasons up here in the NW. I have yet to get an orchard confirmed, so I will look forward to that once I get one!

Will the market take food stamps?

Creator Ali Williams

I am in the process of getting an EBT processing machine.

How has community reaction been so far?

So far the reaction has been positive, encouraging, and supportive. People are really excited and very helpful. We have had great support from the Mississippi Business Association, Just Out, and the Boise/Eliot Voice.

Do you expect to see any profile folks at the opening? Maybe Mayor Adams fondling some fresh fruit?

The forecast says 50% (aka 100%) chance of rain for the opening weekend. I think I will shoot for getting Portland’s high profile people here in early June once the sunshine and produce is more fruitful (pun intended). I would love to see Mayor Adams there, but I would not be opposed to Obama, Justin Bieber, or Ellen Degeneres if they were free for the morning…

Any special vendors for Mother’s Day?

I don’t have any special vendors set up for Mother’s Day specifically, but there is rumor that there will be something there for the moms and mom-like figures…

Anything else you would like to add about the new Market Q?

Everyone should come… everyone. Not just gay people. This project is about community. It is about providing a service to our neighborhood and getting everyone involved… And if anyone is interested in participating as a vendor or playing music have them contact me ali@pdxqcenter.org.

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