The first Homer Farmers Market is coming up this weekend. This is the big one that farmers work toward, planting specifically so that they will have their best to offer on opening day. And a great opportunity for shoppers to vote with their dollars for local food.
It will look very different this Saturday. Booths will be spaced 10 feet apart and the entire middle row will be gone. No craft vendors will be selling, only producers and take-home food vendors. No entertainment nor souvenir sales. There will be one entrance and exit to control overcrowding as well as a drive-through pick-up if you have ordered ahead from a farmer. The Market will be as COVID safe as possible, even asking patrons to wear face coverings and leave the first hour from 10-11am for seniors and those with delicate immune systems.
I know, I know, the state is slowly opening up, why worry? But we are in a limbo of uncertainty as to whether or not COVID numbers will rise as we get more visitors from out of town and less pressure to be cautious. The Market can’t afford to be seen as a vector of disease.
We have already seen it play out in the Lower 48. As the pandemic hit states where farmers markets were open, markets realized the folly in being a “community gathering place.” Many were forced to shut down, then opened as essential services, then closed again as COVID numbers jumped.
The market board will reassess and adjust accordingly throughout the summer. But to protect our farmers (who grow our food) and to make shoppers (who support those farmers) feel safe, the Market is following the rules carefully. (Google the State of Alaska DEC webpage on COVID-19 guidance)
So be considerate. Bring small bills so your farmer doesn’t have to deal with change for you. You won’t be able to get Market coins with your credit card, but you can use your SNAP benefits.
Please be supportive of our farmers this Saturday from 10am-3pm, even if you think all this fuss is ridiculous. We want to keep the Market open, keep our community healthy, and keep the local food rolling in.