Jaric Jahns, left, a produce partner at Serendipity Farm in Quilcene, helps customers Emily Allen and her two sons, Bram Genaw, 6, and Toby Genaw, 3, at the Port Townsend Farmers Market in September 2019. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News file)

Jaric Jahns, left, a produce partner at Serendipity Farm in Quilcene, helps customers Emily Allen and her two sons, Bram Genaw, 6, and Toby Genaw, 3, at the Port Townsend Farmers Market in September 2019. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News file)

Port Townsend Farmers Market opening postponed

Market managers, vendors considering other ways to offer produce

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Farmers Market opening originally set for Saturday has been postponed after organizers heard many public concerns about the gathering.

The Jefferson County Farmers Market Association had received approval from Jefferson County Public Health, Jefferson County and City of Port Townsend officials to open with increased sanitation and health practices, but after receiving numerous calls from the public, the decision was made to postpone it to at least April 25, said Amanda Milholland, market association director.

Now Milholland and staff are working to create an online market from which people can order food and produce.

“I have been receiving numerous daily emails, Facebook messages and even phone calls requesting that we postpone opening the farmers market,” Milholland said in a press release.

“I have received at least as many positive comments and emails thanking us for bringing our community food, putting a strong safety plan into practice and supporting local farms and food businesses.

“It is a hard decision to postpone the farmers market,” Milholland said. “However, as a super-small nonprofit, we have to choose our work wisely. I will turn my focus to getting the online market up and running with the hope that, when we open, we will be able to offer both a very small farmers market and a pick-up option for people who’ve shopped online.”

PA market

The Port Angeles Farmers Market, which is closed until further notice, is offering information about other options — such as delivery, online sales and community pickup sites — on its Facebook page and through its weekly newsletter, to which people can register at farmersmarketportangeles.com/market.

Several of its vendors are offering online delivery during social distancing. A community pickup site has been set from noon to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at 301 E. Lopez St. for orders that have been made with an individual farm.

So far, only Wild Edge Farm is offering this service, market manager Billy Fortini said, but he hopes more will join as produce becomes more available.

Hardest hit

Milholland said the people who will be impacted the hardest are the newer farms, which don’t have the infrastructure yet for wholesale, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) or other markets during an economic downturn and rely on direct-to-consumer sales.

She hopes the online market will be able to support them and other farms in Jefferson County.

“We want to provide as many ways as possible for our local farms to reach the community,” Milholland said. “We want to reach as many people as possible.”

Tentative date

April 25 is a tentative opening date for the market. Milholland is confident she should have the online sales ready by then.

When the market does re-open, Milholland expects it will implement the same or similar safety plan that would have been in place if the market would have opened this Saturday.

Among the changes are that the vendors booths will be 10 feet apart from each other (the center row of vendors has been removed), the use of cash is being discouraged and vendors are encouraged to use market tokens, credit/debit card, or EBT/SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) cards when possible, Milholland said.

The Jefferson County market association also will launch its dollar-for-dollar SNAP match program at the market. For every dollar a customer spends on a SNAP/EBT card, the farmers market will give an extra dollar for farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, Milholland said.

The market will have hand washing and sanitizing stations for customers and ask them to wash their hands before entering the market, and vendors and staff will be cleaning and sanitizing their booths, restrooms and other surfaces frequently throughout the day, Milholland said.

The market association will ask shoppers to have grocery lists prepared in advance, wash and sanitize their hands before entering, respect the 6-foot distance between shoppers and vendors, purchase their groceries without touching other food and leave without lingering, Milholland said.

Another change is that only one person per household be sent to the market to shop, she said. The market staff will have a set entry and exit point and will monitor the number of people in the market to ensure it doesn’t have too many at one time.

Milholland also hopes to have pick-up available for orders made online starting at the first market.

The other two farmers markets run by the Jefferson County association are set to open this summer, with the Chimacum Farmers Market in June and the Wednesday Port Townsend market opening in July.

The Sequim Farmers Market is scheduled to open May 16. The Forks Farmers Market also is expected to open in May.

Nash’s Farm Stand is practicing social distancing at its store at 1865 E. Anderson Road. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Customers are asked to stand outside of the table at the entrance.

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].

Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.

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