With the state gradually reopening and easing restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Brookings Farmers Market is set to open at 9 a.m. Saturday at its normal location between the Brookings Public Library and the Brookings County Courthouse.
A series of new restrictions and modifications as to how the market functions are in place for safety this season.
Market Manager Louise Snodgrass got approval from market neighbors, including from the Brookings County Commission on Tuesday, to close one block of Sixth Avenue to open the farmers market. And her presentation included plans already made to keep both market vendors and customers as safe as possible while conducting business.
Snodgrass said that booths will be spread farther apart than normal (about 12 feet), and on one side of the street only so there’s a wider space for people to pass one another and line up 6 feet apart. A limited number of patrons will be allowed within each booth-area, there will be hand washing/sanitizing stations readily available.
Vendors will be wearing masks and other protective gear, food sampling will be suspended for the time being, and food consumption will not be allowed in the farmers market vicinity with everything, including prepared food, taken to-go.
Market volunteers will monitor how many people are in the area and will close off access to the market should the maximum threshold of patrons be reached.
Snodgrass said that the Brookings Farmers Market was deemed essential by the City because the market is a food provider. All non-essential activities, such as yoga, social gathering promotions and special events, will be suspended until further notice.
Port-o-potties will be for vendors only.
“I believe that will just promote people to limit their time at the market. Instead of spending three hours every Saturday morning, … we’re asking people to do 20-30 minutes or less, and asking people to only have one member of the household attend the market,” Snodgrass told the commission.
She also said that she is looking into potential methods for limiting the exchange of cash and credit cards between patrons and vendors, such as setting up one central location for payment of all purchases from all booths, or asking vendors to quarantine their “market cash.”
Snodgrass strongly encourages all visitors to wear a mask, and if they are sick in any capacity to stay home.
“The state government is operating as if this is not as big of an issue as how the City government is acting,” Snodgrass said. “So, I’m going to operate under the City’s guidelines because I know that the City is being a little bit more proactive.”
“The state has no regulations right now about farmers markets … in regard to the pandemic. And they have very little about actual farmers markets,” Snodgrass said.
She said the state Department of Health and the state Department of Agriculture only have a few suggestions as to how to proceed with having farmers markets during the pandemic, but nothing extensive is being offered for guidance or assistance.
Snodgrass said that the farmers market aims to remain on its usual schedule with the final day for the Brookings Farmers Market being on Oct. 31.
For more information, visit the Brookings Farmers Market Facebook page.
Contact Matthew Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register