Farmers markets rely on curbside pickup, other measures to keep customers safe
There is a misperception about our farmers markets, especially among those who stopped attending markets once the shelter-in-place order was issued. People have told me they are staying away because they worry about all the hands that touch the produce and all the coughing and sneezing that may contaminate it.
Let me ease your worries. Customers are not rifling through the food. Many farmers are coming to market with their harvest already packed in individual bags. Those who don’t are making the selections for you, as you point at what you’d like.
Stalls have chalk markings in front of them, keeping customers at 6 feet of distance. The stalls are taped off to prevent the random hand from slipping in to grab the last carton of eggs. Booths have signs reminding us of the protocols that allow them to stay open.
There are hand-washing stations throughout the markets. Some vendors and some customers are masked and gloved.
Farmers market managers also must limit how many customers can enter a market at any given time. Farmers markets risk being shut down if they don’t follow prescribed protocols.
Another benefit of farmers markets is the supply chain. Produce and eggs pass through very few hands, often just one or two, before they are offered at a vendor’s table. And there is the added benefit of supporting our local farmers.
Several markets are beginning to offer online shopping and curbside pickup.
Details are still being worked out, but in another week, things should be working smoothly.
A few local businesses are forming partnerships, too, to assemble produce boxes. As these new endeavors firm up, you’ll find details posted at “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
Last weekend, the Santa Rosa Community Farmers Market, at Farmers Lane Plaza, had a steady flow of customers who seemed to enjoy the soft rain.
There was an abundance of fresh produce, along with meat from two Petaluma vendors, freshly fermented foods, traditional breads, gluten-free breads, tea, coffee and bagels. Manager Kelly Smith was busy packing up online orders.
Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market, at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts,on Mark West Springs Road, had a good day, too, with some vendors selling everything they brought. Min-Hee Hill Gardens had a long table full of plant starts, fresh produce and a wonderful selection of prepared foods, including its famous kimchee and sauerkraut.
Sebastopol Farmers Market has been struggling. For the last three Sundays, there have been before-dawn downpours, suppressing turnout.
Also, a lot of older people frequent the market, and many feel safest staying at home. Manager Carla Rosin is considering what sort of pre-packed farm boxes will best serve the market’s customers.
The Sonoma Valley Farmers Market, on Friday mornings at Depot Park, and the Oakmont Farmers Market, held Saturday mornings in the south side parking lot of Wells Fargo Bank, are both open. In Healdsburg, Janet Ciel, manager of Healdsburg Farmers Market, is working on opening the market on April 18.
Some popular vendors, including Armstrong Valley Farm, Pure Puer and Dominique’s Sweets, are taking a couple weeks off.
Sausages seem particularly popular at farmers markets these days. Franco Dunn’s One World Sausages at the Santa Rosa Original and Sebastopol farmers markets are selling out early in the day.