Oregon Gardeners and Ranchers Association


In this photograph, Nick Sunseri, a truck peddler, pays cash for produce at the Oregon Gardeners and Ranchers Association market, while Joe Amato looks on. Originally established about 1915, the market was the first wholesale market on the east side of the Willamette River in Portland and was located near the river. By 1930, the market had moved east from the river to Southeast Tenth and Belmont, where this photograph was taken. A 1952 map of wholesale produce markets in Portland indicates five smaller produce houses clustered around the truck-only Oregon Gardeners and Ranchers Market.

Portland became an agricultural production and marketing center shortly after Euro-Americans descended on the region during the early 1840s. Many settlers came to Oregon because its rich farmland and vast spaces seemed to promise an escape from the industrial cities of the East. Settlers in the region quickly improved transportation by building farm-to-market roads and developing river transport, and by the time Oregon's citizens voted for statehood in 1857, the production and sale of produce was already a pillar of the state's economic and social structure.

The history of produce marketing in Portland is directly linked to the city's Italian American population. Historian Charles F. Gould concluded that, by the early 1900s, "Italians [had] fairly well captured all phases of the local fruit and vegetable market." Many settled on the east side, renting or buying land along Sandy Boulevard or in Ladd's Addition. They grew vegetables and berries, and initially sold, or "peddled," produce in trucks that they drove - via motor or horsepower - throughout the city.

Joe Amato, in the photograph above, is likely a relative of Frank Amato, who first came to the United States from Italy in 1888. He first worked on the railroads, then saved money and entered the produce business in Portland. After saving more money, returning to Sicily, marrying, and coming back to Portland, Amato prospered in the produce business.

Further reading:
Gould, Charles F. "Portland Italians, 1888-1920" Oregon Historical Quarterly 77:3 (September 1976): 238-260

Toll, William. "Ethnicity and Stability: The Italians and Jews of South Portland, 1900-1940" Pacific Historical Review 54:2 (May 1985), 161-189.

Written by Eliza Canty-Jones,  © Oregon Historical Society, 2007.


Map It


Related Historical Records

Bristow Farm, Pleasant Hill
Bristow Farm, Pleasant Hill

The sketch shown above was used to create a lithograph that appeared in Albert G. Walling’s Illustrated History of Lane County, Oregon in 1884. It depicts the farm of Elijah and Susannah Bristow, who settled at Pleasant Hill in 1846.

Elijah Bristow was born in Virginia in 1788. Married in ...

Portland Public Market and Downtown // OrHi 12710
Portland Public Market and Downtown

In this 1933 photo, the newly constructed Portland Public Market, located along Southwest Front Street, stands out in the lower right-hand corner.  During the 1920s, the existing public market at Southwest Fifth and Yamhill streets was centrally located and thriving, albeit highly congested.  In 1933, the Portland Public ...

Related Oregon Encyclopedia Articles


This entry was last updated on Aug. 10, 2017