Mount Shasta Farmers' Market to open May 18
May 18 is the scheduled opening day for the 2020 Mount Shasta Farmers’ Market, which has a new downtown location, new procedures to protect everyone’s health and safety, and a continuing commitment to provide a convenient way for community members to buy fresh food directly from growers and producers.
MSFM has been promoting the benefits of farmers’ markets since it started 21 years ago and believes those benefits stand out even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. That sentiment is shared by Siskiyou County’s District 2 Supervisor Ed Valenzuela.
“I’m very supportive of farmers’ markets,” said Valenzuela. “They’re an integral part of the community. Especially in these times, there’s a lot of value in people being able to get locally sourced homegrown food. I’m grateful we have farmers’ markets.”
Fewer people handle the food you eat when you buy directly from a farmer, rancher or food producer; and eating fresh fruits and vegetables helps strengthen your immune system. The open-air setting at a farmers’ market provides room for social distancing, while buying local food products promotes community food security.
MSFM participates in Market Match and offers free money, up to $20 per market day, for CalFresh beneficiaries and WIC and senior shoppers.
Valenzuela gives credit to the county for creating a way that all types of vendors – including not only farmers and ranchers, but food producers and artisans too - can be in compliance and continue selling at this year’s market.
“We have been busy in recent weeks redesigning our market to follow pandemic-related best practices established at other markets throughout the state and beyond,” said market manager Steve Gerace. “We’ll be using market guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, California Alliance of Farmers’ Markets, Siskiyou County, and the City of Mt. Shasta.”
Many steps are being taken to maintain social distancing at the market, including 12 feet of space between each vendor booth. Vendors and market staff will all be wearing face masks and gloves, and the market will have four handwashing stations. Each vendor booth will have a supply of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
All produce will be protected if not pre-packaged, and customers will not be allowed to handle food prior to purchasing. There will be no sampling or product testing, and procedures are being put in place to limit contact with money and market tokens. Vendors are being encouraged to round prices and use a payment container for cash exchanges.
EBT tokens will be pre-counted and placed in strawberry baskets to minimize handling, and Market Match tokens will be pre-counted and placed in zip lock bags. The EBT machine will be wiped down after each transaction, and EBT cards will be exchanged using a disinfectant wipe.
The market will have an entrance and exit at Mt. Shasta Blvd and E. Castle St. A staff member will use an infra-red thermometer to check the temperature of everyone before entering. The number of customers in the market at any one time will be limited, and customers will be asked to limit the amount of time they spend in the market.
Vendor Hollis Baldwin of Marble Mountain Farm in Happy Camp said they are “willing to take the steps necessary to help ensure the health and safety of everyone in the community.” She said, “We’re planting a ton of crops and want to provide fresh, local, healthy produce to everybody at the market.” They’re also working on creating “grab-and-go boxes” that will make it quick and easy for customers to get a variety of produce in one package.
“It won’t be the same kind of social gathering place that farmers’ markets are known for, and parts of the market considered non-essential, such as live music, will be missing,” Gerace said. “But JEDI is putting many extra resources into creating a path forward to get the freshest food possible to our community in a safe and healthy market.”
“This is an important moment where local small-scale farming and local food production are at the center of the solution!” said JEDI Executive Director Nancy Swift. “Farmers’ markets are a solution in the face of so many other disruptions.”
Mount Shasta Farmers’ Market is scheduled to be open on Mondays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. from May 18 until mid-October.