Cindy Hayford is direct market coordinator of The Food Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and socially responsible agriculture.

Friday, 1 Jun 2001

PORTLAND, Ore

PORTLAND, Ore. Hi, I’m Cindy Hayford, the direct market coordinator for The Food Alliance. This morning, I’m preparing point-of-sale materials for a booth I’ll be setting up this Saturday at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market in Beaverton, Ore. Over the course of the summer, I’ll be attending five different farmer’s markets throughout Oregon. I’m particularly excited about the Beaverton Market, as it’s recognized as one of the best markets in the West and always has a huge turnout.

A Food Alliance booth at a Northwest farmer’s market.

My main objective this weekend is to educate shoppers about what The Food Alliance seal of approval represents. Armed with fact sheets, recipe cards, brochures, and display boards, I aim to explain to shoppers that Food Alliance-approved products are grown by farmers and ranchers who are reducing or eliminating their use of pesticides, conserving soil and water, and providing safe and fair working conditions for farm workers.

Generally speaking, farmer’s markets attract a crowd of consumers that are looking for locally and responsibly grown fresh produce, and are really interested in what we’re doing. I also know nothing engages people more easily than delicious food, so I’ll be offering free samples of strawberries from Food Alliance-approved Unger Farms, who regularly sell at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market.

This ties in with my second objective for tomorrow, which is to direct people to the Food Alliance-approved farmers at the market. Unger Farms and Enchanted Hill Farm, both located in Cornelius, Ore., will be displaying Food Alliance banners and stickers at their booths. My experience has been that once people know which farmers are Food Alliance-approved, they’ll head straight to those booths.

Unger Farms, Inc., owned by Matt and Kathy Unger, produces strawberries, blueberries, and grapes on its 80 acres. Perhaps the farm’s success can be credited to the energy with which the Ungers tackle farming. This is evident in their involvement in seven farmer’s markets in the Portland area and the amount of time they spend continuing their education in agricultural issues. Matt and Kathy use light tillage methods and plant hardy grasses to strengthen the soil, prevent erosion, and control weeds.

Don Anderson in one of his peach trees.

Our other farmer in the market this weekend, Don Anderson of Enchanted Hill Farms, grows 13 delicious varieties of peaches, continuing the tradition his parents started in 1932 when they bought farmland near Cornelius. He also has earned an agriculture degree from Oregon State University. Recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey, today he pursues his long-standing dream of restoring “the Oregon I knew as a child.”

With impressive views and desirably clean well water, Don’s property could easily be sold to build an elite subdivision. However, in Don’s words, “conserving and restoring land and delaying commercial development are lifelong passions of mine.” In time, Don’s daughter, Charlene, and her husband hope to run the farm, expanding production and building a nursery business.

I am inspired by the philosophical beliefs of both the Ungers and Don Anderson, and by the practical way in which they apply these beliefs to their farming operations. As I prepare for the market tomorrow, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to acknowledge the accomplishments of Food Alliance-approved farmers and to spread the news of how consumers can support these socially and environmentally responsible farmers with their shopping dollars.