It’s official: the Farmers’ Market at the Village will open for its 14th season.
It can’t be business as usual, but with guidelines from the Region’s public health, it will be able to offer a limited number of vendors on its originally planned opening date, Saturday, May 23.
Farmers’ markets have been deemed essential by the Province, says Sharon Brinsmead-Taylor, coordinator of the local market, but at this point, it must be restricted to farmers and food products.
For example, Rose and Ken Bartel, anchors at the market from its earliest days, will be there with vegetable plants, says Brinsmead-Taylor, but they won’t be able to sell their beautiful cut flower arrangements.
The popular flower and plant growers and artisan vendors of previous years can’t be included, at least not for now.
There is always the possibility that could change throughout the season, she says. “This is how it stands right now. We really don’t know. We might be able to have them down the road.”
She’s just excited to be opening, and to have vendors outside, presenting a welcome option for shoppers. She’s been reading about the diminished likelihood of the virus spreading outside. “It will be user-friendly shopping, and it just has a different feel to be outside,” she says.
The large tent won’t be up — it would be restricted, because of distancing, to a small number of vendors, and it’s expensive to erect.
Instead, all vendors will be on the pavement, in “pop-up tents” placed at least six feet apart. This will allow for greater flexibility for vendors, says Brinsmead-Taylor. However, she knows the wind could be a challenge, for these small tents, without being able to stake them into pavement, so she’s looking at cost-effective alternatives to weigh them down.
For opening day, there will be 10 vendors, with staples such as graded eggs, honey, cheese, bread, early greens, micro greens, butter, jams, pickles, preserves, and frozen meals and soups.
And the produce will be set up behind the vendors, which is also different.
The number of residents allowed into the market area at a time has yet to be determined, she says, but it will allow for physical distancing, with a line-up of people at six-foot intervals outside the market area, if necessary.
Brinsmead-Taylor says she’s been working extensively with the public health department, which has always played a big role in both the farmers’ market and the Wednesday SupperMarket.
“There have always been rules and standards and there still are. We’ve worked with them to ensure we’re offering a safe solution. They’ve been wonderfully supportive. They want everyone to be safe as well,” she says.
“We’re doing everything we can for the health and safety of our customers, staff and vendors. That’s really important to us. The measures we’re taking are to protect everyone. And hopefully people will feel comfortable and want to come out and support our vendors.”
The market will be open the same hours as other years, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at least to begin with, but if necessary, those hours can be tweaked, says Brinsmead-Taylor.
As for the Wednesday SupperMarket, she’s hopeful it could be offered at some point this season, although it would likely be a smaller market. “We have some ideas of how it could work — we haven’t fully given up on it yet.”
It would have to follow all the provincial guidelines, and be done with the support of the regional public health and the Town, which would need to provide an event permit, as it has in the past.