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Farmers Markets Return with New Rules

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Rest easy, romaine lovers, even in these confusing and confining COVID times, you can still get farm fresh greens at some of the county’s farmers markets —  now open for the season.

Farmers markets, like grocery stores, are deemed essential businesses. And with the opportunity to support local farmers who need it now more than ever, and to get nutrient-rich, delicious produce that has likely been handled less than it is in stores, we'll take it.
PHOTO BY MELANIE CUNNINGHAM
  • Photo by Melanie Cunningham
Our familiar farmers markets are opening up but things look a little different. For instance, at the Saturday Arcata Farmers Market, you won’t see crowds milling about socializing, weaving in and out of the streets and plaza grass, walking between vendors, hula hooping or lounging around listening to live music. There’s no sampling. No groups of friendly strangers sharing space at the stand’s counters touching produce and handing vendors cash. And while that may not sound like a good thing in a regular mid-May in Humboldt scenario, in these circumstances, it is.

[jump] What you will see at the Arcata Farmers Market are lots of spaces between booths, orderly single file lines with spaces marked and separated by 6 feet of distance, produce and goods handled only by the vendors, signs inviting customers to “Please touch with your eyes” or “Please don’t touch the produce, we will assist.” Vendors will be donning masks and gloves. There will be extra hand-washing stations on site and sanitizing precautions and cleaning measures taken at virtually every step of the purchase process.

We can have nice things. We just have to follow the rules and respect the situation and one another. For instance, all customers are required to wear masks per Humboldt County requirements. And additionally, here are the North Coast Growers Association's guidelines for the area's farmers markets:

• Stay home if sick
• Customers age 65+ or in another risk group should have someone shop for them whenever possible
• Practice good cough and hand hygiene. Hand washing stations are provided.
• Keep 6 feet distance from others.
• Make a shopping list and complete shopping as quickly as possible
• Customers are not allowed to handle produce/ products before buying. Allow the vendor to bag purchases.
• Take prepared food to-go to comply with social distancing protocol and do not eat on site
• This is not a social hour. Limit interactions with other customers and vendors. When possible, please only have one person per household at market to make social distancing easier for others.

These Farmers’ Markets are now open:
Arcata Plaza - Open Saturdays 9 a.m. -2 pm.
Miranda - Open Mondays 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Shelter Cove - Open Tuesdays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Garberville – Open Fridays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

These markets are scheduled to open in June:
Old Town Eureka, Henderson Center Eureka, Fortuna, McKinleyville and Willow Creek.

Full market schedules and up to date information can be found on the NCGA’s website at northcoastgrowersassociation.org.

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