The growers that rely on direct marketing have suffered badly during this pandemic. These growers sell through farmers’ markets and to specialty restaurants. The restaurants have closed, and the farmers’ markets have seen a dramatic decline in business. However, the public should be re-thinking whether or not they should go to a farmers’ market.
Think about it: you’re out in the fresh air, there are no doors to touch, no carts to push, and there’s lots of room for social distancing. Fewer people have handled the fresh fruit and vegetables during harvesting and distribution. The vendor will bag your purchase for you – you don’t need to touch anything that isn’t yours.
One very popular Farmers’ Market in Clovis California closed down when all this started, but is rethinking their closure – and they are going to reopen. Even though farmers’ markets are on the list of essential businesses that may remain open, this market was closed at the start of the pandemic in an abundance of caution. They will reopen on a small scale on Saturday, April 18.
The vendors are not cavalier about the pandemic. Everyone is taking precautions. The vendors will all be wearing gloves and facemasks, and are asking their customers to follow all public distancing guidelines. People should stay 6 feet apart and just bring one person per family. No need to bring bags- the vendors will handle the fruit and vegetables and bag it for them. Customers are also asked to wear masks and gloves, and absolutely should not come at all if they are sick. There will be no entertainment – no DJ or band playing and no place to sit down, unlike past Farmers’ Markets. There will be a hand sanitizing station.
Only about 7 or 8 vendors are expected this first weekend. Still, there will be fresh fruit and vegetables from Ferrar Farms, Ninik Natural Foods, Jams by Milissa, Busy Bees Honey Farm, and cheese from Tres Bien Creamery. Organizers hope to see a good turnout of careful, considerate people. If buying at an outdoor farmers’ market is actually safer than in a store, we hope to see you there.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.