By Sue Tiffin
The county’s three farmers’ marketswon’t look the same this year but they’ll be open for businesseven if it’s not as usual.
Minden’s market runs Saturdaysbeginning June 13 Haliburton’s market runs Tuesdays beginningJune 16 and Stanhope will open on Fridays beginning June 26.
Though the season is starting laterthan usual the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market Association hasbeen working over the past two months to develop an operational planfor the markets to be able to open under strict guidelines during theCOVID-19 pandemic requiring public health department approval andpermission to use municipal property from all three townships.
“We’ve gone through a ratherrigorous process and justifiably so to make sure that everything isgoing to be safe” said Gus Janca secretary of the HaliburtonCounty Farmers’ Market. “Everybody’s supportive and everybody’son board.”
While the markets will be openMinden's will be held in the fairgrounds with an entrance by thecurling club rather than the municipal parking lot and Haliburton’swill be held in Rotary Park due to changes made prior to thepandemic in anticipation of renovation work being done in Head LakePark. All will be set up in the shape of the letter U with oneentrance a one-direction walk-through and no turning back.
“If you forgot to pick up your breadyou’ll have to go back in just like in a grocery store you don’tturn around and go against the arrow” said Janca referencingphysical distancing measures that include signage in place at grocerystores.
The HCFMA is asking customers to wearmasks and follow guidelines posted at the market locations and isalso spreading vendors out to offer physical distancing. A curbsideoption is not available but Janca said customers are encouraged tocontact vendors in advance to order and pre-pay if possible and cashused that day will use a system so that money in circulation fromcustomers is kept separate from money used as change in return.
“Public health feels that if thechange has sat for 72 hours if money has sat for 72 hours the viruswon’t survive so quarantine cash will be available” said Janca.“We’re not actually handling the money so this is between the vendors but wehave already sent them a set of protocols … Then the vendor can usepublic health procedures to make sure the cash they’ve collected isthen safe whether that be washing it quarantining it for a periodor whatever.”
Additionally food will be availablebut not ready-to-eat meals as per public health regulations. Jancahad recently heard artisan vendors might be able to be included butdidn't have further information at press time.
Janca notes the changes might bedisappointing to some regular market goers – he said the lack ofprepared meals breaks his heart noting “I love those falafels”- but he said he appreciated that the market itself is considered anessential service on the province’s list and he said the publichealth unit did help develop a plan to open. Many of the vendors wereable to return although some had to opt out for reasons includingmaking prior commitments due to the late start in the marketsopening.
“These vendors are small businesspeople and I think that small business people all over are the onesthat are going to take the biggest financial hit” he said. “Thisis a way to support your community if you are a customer to supportyour community directly … We have statistics from past years thatshow that when a dollar comes into the farmers’ market it turnsover a number of times in this community” he said. “It’s alsobecome very evident that people here are turning back to local foodand seeing the value of having locally grown food where you aretrustworthy of the person the person that’s behind that table isthe one that grew that food. There’s a real movement toward thatand we are really pleased we can continue with that tradition.”
Janca said the pandemic has resultedfor some people in “glimpses of the downside of the globalmarket” for example in our reliance on goods like personalprotective equipment from other countries.
“I think we should be looking atother commodities especially food” he said. “We need to havefood security. Food security means that if the global marketcollapses we still can eat. By supporting your local farmer that’sworking toward that.”
A May 25 press release from theHaliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District health unit encouragesfarmers’ markets to sell online as “the best approach to use atthis time” but also accepted detailed plans and proposals frommarkets wishing to open with “details on how the market willmaintain physical distancing ensure proper handwashing and followappropriate cleaning/protocols” which are then reviewed forapproval by a public health inspector.
“During COVID-19 farmers who selllocally-grown and sourced foods in Haliburton County NorthumberlandCounty and the City of Kawartha Lakes must keep the health and safetyof the community top of mind” reads the HKPRDHU release.
Further information about theHaliburton County Farmers’ Markets is available athttp://www.hcfma.ca.