The Golden Farmer’s Market is getting creative in finding a way to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions, with a planned launch of an online market set for May 1.
The market is following the guidelines set out by the BC Farmers Market Association.
“We weren’t sure how we were going to process with opening the market with the pandemic but now that we’re online, any vendor can participate right now,” said Melissa Kardash, a representative for the Golden Farmers Market.
“We can run it like a typical market would where the Golden market hosts the online market and customers can browse and search through their favourite vendors.”
Customers can interact with online vendors, who are responsible for setting up delivery or pick up locations that adhere to proper health guidelines.
Currently, the market has 12 vendors signed up for the service. In a usual year, the market would have about 30, but Kardash is confident that Golden will see some of their favourite vendors as the season goes on.
“A lot of our farmers aren’t on right now because they don’t have any produce at the moment,” said Kardash.
“We’ve had some requests to join, later on, vendors can come on board at any time.”
While the online market is looking promising, bringing the market back outside once the pandemic comes to a close is still up in the air.
The lack of clarity is due in part to the uncertain nature of the current pandemic, but a major factor is a need for crossing guards. According to Kardash, Crossroads, the traffic control company that normally supplies the crossing guards for the on the ground markets, will not be able to do the same this season.
“They’ve refused to do our market hours, they felt that the lunch hour was too busy for it to be safe, so we’re having difficulty setting up our traffic control this year,” said Kardash.
Kardash said that even if the market does return in physical form, patrons can expect a few key changes.
First and foremost, the market will be hosted at Spirit Square, with Kardash saying that the reduced traffic in this area coupled with lesser traffic due to COVID-19 may make resolving their traffic control issues easier.
The market will have to follow strict guidelines from the BC CDC on how to operate their market, with the organization releasing a multiple page document about how to move forward once markets get the green light to open again.
As well, there will be only food vendors, with artisans and other vendors being deemed non-essential.
Kardash explained the new look for the market emphasizes it as a service and less as a social event.
“Primarily, it’s going to be a food hub for local food and produce,” said Kardash.
“It’ll be more like an outdoor grocery store, we’ll have to have aisles set up and a specific flow to be followed. It’ll mostly be pre-packaged and take away goods – people can’t sit and mingle.”
Additionally, there will be no dogs permitted and no live music. Kardash said they’re looking into hiring two market managers to help oversee the situation, which would be funded by the Columbia Basin Trust.
The on the ground market will only be once a week on Wednesdays if it does come to fruition and will operate on reduced hours.