Your little sprout may know that a French fry is a potato and that ketchup is really tomatoes, but given the abundance of amazing farmers markets that are about to open on the Portland scene for the summer season, perhaps it’s time to take your kiddo’s knowledge of veggies up a few notches. He’ll learn plenty by simply sauntering past stands that are ripe with fresh, local produce, but many markets are going above and beyond to cater to kids, with special activities, classes and events that will engage and delight them. Here are several ways to make an outing to a Portland area farmers market an educational and entertaining experience for your tykes.

Kids Cook Classes at the Portland State University Farmers Market
Kids ages 7-11 can learn to whip up some delicious dishes using fresh ingredients sourced at the farmers market during the Kids Cook Classes offered at the Portland State University Farmers Market. Not only will aspiring chefs learn about the seasonality of food, they’ll get to meet local farmers, go on a guided tour of the market, and receive hands-on instruction crafting dishes and take-home recipes. Each class is taught by an instructor or student of The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland. Held every other Saturday in June, July and August, classes are two hours, from 8:30am-10:30am and are a bargain at $5 per child, per class. The schedule for the upcoming season of Kids Cook Classes is: June 16th with Chef Cory Schreiber: Summer Berry Fool with Cookie Crumb toppings, June 30th with Chef Mat Kline: Stuff your own Raviolis, July 14th with Chef Eric Wynkoop: Creative Crepes. July 28th with Chef Meredith Mortensen: TBD, August 11th with Chef Cory Schreiber: Summer Vegetable Tortillas, August 25th with Chef Jonathan Nagar: Kids’ Sushi.

To reserve a spot in any of the above classes, download the Registration Form or contact Anna Curtin at 503-241-0032.

Bite Size Kids Cook at the Buckman and King Neighborhood Markets
Free drop-in cooking activities for kids are offered once a month at the King and Buckman Farmers Markets. Kids of all ages are welcome, but the classes are mostly geared toward kids ages 7 and older. Each class incorporates seasonal produce and recipes to enjoy at home. The King market cooking classes will take place on the second Sunday of each month of the season, on the following dates: May 13th,  June 10th, July 8th, August 12th and September 9th. The Buckman market classes take place on the last Thursday of each month on the following dates: May 31st, June 28th, July 26th, August 30th, and September 27th.

Moreland Farmers Market
On June 6th, the Portland Homestead Supply Company will be bringing some of their farm animals for ‘show and tell’ from 4:00pm-6:00pm. And on June 13th, Mr. Lizard will be presenting his acclaimed reptile show from 4:30pm-5:30pm.

Tigard Farmers Market
The Tigard Farmers Market is having an Amazing Market Race. On their Facebook page, you can find a list for kids big and small to print out and complete all of the activities by way of a scavenger hunt. The Tigard Market will also be handing out bags, passports and stickers at their Info booth. The passports have blank squares and ask kids to complete simple tasks such as, “find the red carrots in the market.” Once they find stated items, vendors will initial their card and kids may bring it back to the Info booth for a sticker. Once kids fill four squares with stickers, they get to pick out a reward from the prize bag.

POP “Power of Produce” Club at the Oregon City Farmers Market
Kids ages 5-12 can fill out “Passports to Health” and the redeem a POP Club reusable shopping bag, button to proudly wear and $2 in tokens to spend on fresh produce and plants. Once enrolled in the POP Club, kids will receive $2 to spend every time they visit the market, as long as supplies last.

— Beth Shea

Photos courtesy of Moreland Farmers Market