Regular visitors to Powell River Farmers’ Market will notice several changes this year. While certain vendors will be on hand this weekend when the market opens, the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in many adjustments being implemented, including social distancing measures.
“It is going to be a different experience when people come here,” says manager Juhli Jobi. “We will have 20 vendors, down from our regular 65-plus, and 30 shoppers will be allowed in at a time. Others will have to line up six feet apart.”
Vendors will include farmers selling fresh produce, frozen meat and eggs, and others offering plant starts or prepackaged, prepared food.
“There won’t be any chairs or picnic tables out, no live music or kids’ toys, and no train,” explains Juhli. “It is usually quite festive and full of people but our focus is now solely on local food security; you’re just coming to get your groceries and then heading home.”
Vendors will be spread out and Juhli recommends only one person per family to shop, similar to grocery stores.
Visitors to the market are allowed to bring reusable bags as long as they are not placed on any surface. Instead of customers selecting items and pulling their own orders together, they will verbally ask for what they wish to purchase.
“The vendor will then set it at the side of the booth, then customers can go and put it in their bags,” explains Juhli. “That way the vendor has enough room to step away and give them the required two metres of space.”
Juhli says the market is opening with full support of provincial and local authorities.
“This has all been vetted, all the approvals have come in and we are doing everything with public safety in mind,” she adds.
A hand-wash station will be open, hand sanitizers will be available and washrooms will be open for emergency use.
The provincially funded Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program is going ahead again this year.
“Last year our community partners shared over $22,000 in coupons to low-income families and new moms to purchase fresh produce, eggs or frozen meat at the market,” says Juhli, “This year the First Credit Union has made a generous donation of $5,000 to include low-income seniors.”
To enhance options for shoppers, plans are underway to launch an online farmers’ market platform, with clickable vendor logos to view and purchase products. Shoppers will choose their pick-up date and make their visit to the market quicker. The platform will launch in early May and continue to expand as the season progresses.
Powell River Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, and Sundays from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm, at 4365 McLeod Road. Dog owners are asked to leave their furry friends at home while the market is open.
For more information, contact Juhli at 604.414.5076 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to facebook.com/powellriverfarmersmarket, Instagram @powellriverfarmersmarket or Twitter @prfarmersmarket.
First Credit Union continued its support of Powell River Farmers’ Market over the years by sponsoring this article.