The now ubiquitous padron pepper

When Viridian Farms launched in 2006, no one in Portland knew what to do with a padron pepper. But by 2012, owners Manuel and Leslie Recio had converted the pepper from obscurity to Northwest culinary mainstay. Today, Viridian sells the most sought-after local produce and deals in rare Spanish ingredients to savvy home cooks and chefs alike (read the full story in our Food Lover’s Guide).

Eat Beat has learned that Viridian Farms is tapering off their farm service to open Conserva, a specialty market bringing in rare artisan products from Spain, France, and Italy. The Recios are joined by Jim Dixon, olive oil guru and import expert.

Don’t despair quite yet: Viridian will still sell some of their well-known produce (calcots, strawberries, and asparagus, to name a few) for the 2015 farmers market season. After that, the Recio’s are handing the reigns over to a neighboring farm and retiring the plow. As of today, Viridian’s hard-earned heirloom seeds are available for sale at their website. “We want to pass the torch to other growers,” explains Manuel Recio. “They can grow these heirlooms and not fly to Spain and spend 10 years researching.”

Meanwhile, Conserva (location TBD; either inner Southeast or Northwest) will carry mainly shelf-stable items like preserves, spices, grains, and cured meats from Western Europe. Olive oils and other imports will be curated by Dixon. Expect weekly tastings and small group classes organized by region.

Says Recio: “The small Spanish farmers we learned from over the years are so dedicated to making amazing products. This is our way of giving back for everything they’ve given us.”

Projected opening: February 1, 2015

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