Happenings at the Farmers Market

Haoua Cheick displaying a few of the woven basket designs available for purchase at the Bull Mountain Farmers Market each weekend.
Haoua Cheick displaying a few of the woven basket designs available for purchase at the Bull Mountain Farmers Market each weekend.

Women Artisans Resource Enterprise

The array of African artesian crafts for sale every Saturday and Sunday at the Bull Mountain Farmers Marker represents more than just the half-dozen nations where they were carefully handmade. Every piece is also a product of empowerment.

“It’s a social enterprise to help African women sell their work anywhere, whether it’s the US or Europe,” Women Artisans Resource Enterprise (WAREE) owner Haoua Cheick says of the business she’s grown over years of traveling and mentoring.

Whether it’s mud cloth textiles and leather goods from her native Mali, Masai Beaded jewelry from Kenya, bowls from Rwanda, or baskets woven in Ghana and Zambia, everything she imports and sells benefits its maker on multiple levels.

“In Mali, where I came from, the young men used to do leatherwork because it’s labor-intensive,” she said. “Lately, I was able to convince them to get fabric from the women and incorporate it into their design. They got so excited that they would give a piece of leather to the women and ask them to dye it. So, in a way, they all share the market. Not only men. My business is about women, but also, we need to create other sources so they can collaborate.”

She puts her graduate MBA to work, helping women develop business skills.

Cheick developed relationships during a decade of volunteer work where she mentored women in Africa, teaching business skills and helping to import their wares. Along with profits, she returned to Africa with real-time market feedback for the women, telling them which products were selling and guiding them toward buyers’ tastes.

Most of the baskets she sells are woven to suit Western tastes, a little more sedate, with patterns that use only two or three colors instead of the more traditional style found in Ghana, which incorporates many bright colors.

“In Africa, we like several colors at once,” she was able to tell basket weavers. “Here, they like the pink one, the yellow one, the red one. It helps them to build their collection.”

She has a brick-and-mortar location in Portland, but weekends at the market are what she loves most.

“To me, the market is the best place because I can talk with customers one-on-one and get ideas to send back.”

Vang’s Garden

The gorgeous fresh bouquets at Vang’s Garden are a family affair and a labor of love for its namesake, Yang Vang.

Vang raises more than 50 varieties of flowers on his 10-acre farm in Scappoose, planting and harvesting annually with Ker Xiong to sell at seasonal markets. The pair, both Hmong farmers, immigrated from Laos to the United States following the Vietnam War and started Vang’s Garden after moving to Oregon in 2003.

During the Spring and early Summer, tulips, daffodils, and other early-blooming bulbs accented by pussy willow and baby’s breath fill out Vang’s fat flower arrangements.

Vang and his small crew bring buckets of fresh-cut beauties and assemble bouquets on-site throughout the morning to provide plenty of pre-made choices. Shoppers can also create custom arrangements.

“These are all organic. No chemicals are used,” said Ka Lia Her. “Vang does all the picking and growing by himself with his wife. It’s literally just the two of them.”

Her, who calls Vang “my dad,” though he’s technically her brother’s father-in-law, helps him sell at the Market.

Dahlias, Peonies, Stargazer lilies, hydrangeas, sunflowers, and dozens of other floral varieties will appear in the mix as summer and early fall blooms start to open.

“Yang’s favorites are the peonies coming into bloom right now,” Her said. “We’ll have a ton of those. They bloom in May, but the season is a little slow because it’s been chillier this spring.”

Prices vary by arrangement size, ranging from $10-25 per bouquet.

Look for Vang’s at both the Tigard and Bull Mountain markets through October.

Stretch your SNAP benefits by shopping for fresh foods at Tigard-area farmers markets!

Oregon farmers market season is here! This means you can access excellent local produce in your neighborhood directly from farmers and food producers.

For many low-income families, buying fresh produce at the farmers market can seem like a luxury, but both Farmers Markets in Tigard have been working hard to make their goods more accessible and affordable to everyone in their community. Not only do these farmers markets accept EBT cards (or Oregon Trail cards), but through a generous grant from Tualatin Valley Soil and Water and the City of Tigard, both allocate additional funds to match SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits dollar to dollar up to $15 per day – meaning you could get $30 worth of food for only $15 from your SNAP account.

These matching programs allow SNAP participants to stretch their benefits by shopping for fresh produce at a nearby farmers markets.