PORTLAND Portland Farmers Market downtown opens its 22nd season Saturday.

The market is not only a place for farmers to showcase their bounties, it also gives entrepreneurs a chance to start their own businesses.

More than 50 businesses that started at the Portland Farmers Market have expanded to brick-and-mortar stores or expanded their product distribution.

One such business is Verde Cocina.

Noe Garnica and his wife Anna, with help from Noe's brothers, started at the market in 2009. They now have two Portland restaurants. They still have a location at Portland Farmers Market, and that s where they buy the produce they need there for their restaurants.

They gave us the opportunity for us to put our food out in front of people, which was the most important thing, said Anna Garnica. Perhaps it gave us a client, or a customer base, that was ready-made when we opened our restaurant.

Many of the business owners that have graduated from the market say it helped them develop a built-in customer base and made it easier to expand.

They also say it's a great place for them to try out new recipes and get immediate feedback. The

Portland Farmers Market opens Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

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