How Different Types Of Farmers Markets Have Impacted By The Coronavirus This Year

Jun 4, 2020

Now that the weather is warming up, farmers markets around Utah are beginning to open up. However, they don’t look the same as past years. Some markets have been positively effected by pandemic mitigation efforts, while others, not so much.

Back in April, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food released guidelines for farmers markets for the 2020 season. Along with social distancing and the sanitation standards that are being put into place, the biggest change one can expect to see is the absence of craft venders. Venders at these markets are limited to meat, fruit, vegetables, and other agriculture products.

Throughout Utah there are different formats of how farmers markets are ran. Markets runs from year-round, to seasonal, to online platforms.

Cedar City hosts a year-long farmers market. They did not shut down because of the pandemic, but adjusted to accommodate public health.  Cassidy Skouson, the manager of the market said that the pandemic caused the community to come together and support the local farmers.

“It's been a lot larger crowd than normal," said Skouson. "So we have our regular people that we get throughout the year. But we're seeing more than just the regular people. We're seeing a lot more newer faces. And the summer season hasn't even started. You know, that doesn't really happen until the tourists come to town.”

The market typically averaged around 12 venders in the summertime however the last few weeks, Skouson said they have averaged about 18 or 19 vendors.

In Eagle Mountain, there are two types of farmers market choices, a seasonal and online choice. The seasonal market is scheduled to begin this Saturday. Becky Painter manages both options. She is nervous that because of the COVID-19 restrictions, their market will be negatively impacted.

“We're hoping that people will see that through our social distancing of the booths and are making it so products aren't handled by everybody walking through like they're at a grocery store," said Painter. "We will have them back and you can look at them and then, you know, say I want that one and point to that one point to that one. And then they will put that in your bag and hand it to you so that it doesn't have all people's hands on every product, but that will help instill in people an understanding of how this is actually a lot safer than going to the grocery store.”

The seasonal market is held by the city and the online version, The Pony Express Market, is part of a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program. 

The Pony Express Market was launched about a month ago. The market was started as a CSA, however with the Coronavirus pandemic, the market expanded to allow regular customers to order during the market season.

Having an online platform has a variety of benefits.

“We can make it year-round. The farmers market outdoors ends the end of September, but it's kind of funny that it ends then because that's just harvest season, said Painter. "October is great harvest season so we can continue to sell throughout the year and we will do that. And we'll also invite other craft vendors and things like that to sell at that market.“

Members of the community can also volunteer to help the online market by making their home a pickup site for online orders.

For information on guidelines for local farmers markets, visit https://ag.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/UDAFs-COVID-19-Farmers-Market-Guidelines-Yellow-Phase.pdf