Local Farmers' Markets Important Economically, Plan To Open

Apr 24, 2020

The Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market has always opened on Mother’s Day weekend, and Mary Laine, the market manager, said this year will keep up the tradition — though with new precautions due to the coronavirus.

“There won't be any food sampling," Laine said. "A lot of the fun things that you're thinking you get to do it at markets won't be there for a while, but we should be able to buy some really great food, I hope, and I think for myself, I would personally rather shop outside than in a store right now.”

Though the market typically hosts around 70 vendors a week, there will only 14-18 food and produce vendors for the first few weeks of the season. While there won’t be any craft booths open, Laine said their vendors may be around to help monitor and enforce social distancing. 

Some markets, like the Downtown Year-Round Farmer's Market in Cedar City, have been offering drive thru services, but Laine said the Cache Valley market voted to operate as close to normal as possible.

According to Laine, the markets havee more importance than their social values, and Regan Emmons, the Farmers Market Promotion Program coordinator for Utah State University, agreed. 

“Farmers’ markets are a pretty special place where people can come and purchase food that was grown in their region. And in normal circumstances, they can get to know the people and the families that are growing and producing their food," Emmons said. "So I think in times like these, it's even more important to if we can at all possible support regional economic development. But it is also an important place for commerce to happen around local food."

The Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market plans to do a test-run with vendors the week before the May 9 opening to test some of the other changes, like only having one entrance and one exit, and placing markers on the ground to keep 6 feet between people for social distancing, both in conjuntion with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food's guidelines and the local health department.