Farmers’ Market opens with new safety restrictions

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The Trumansburg Farmers’ Market opened for its 2020 season on May 6, instituting new protocols to provide the community with the much-loved and needed resource while ensuring the safety of patrons and vendors alike.

According to a recent press release, the Trumansburg Farmers’ Market board has held bi-weekly meetings for the last two months and coordinated with the Village Trustees to decide what changes would be needed.

Market Manager Natalie Baris said the Farmers’ Market has instituted new product packaging, physical distancing and cleaning requirements, including only allowing food- and health-related vendors.

“There were some policies and things to understand and follow, trying to follow what your state health department says, what the CDC says, what the WHO says, what Tompkins County says,” Baris said. “There’s a lot of entities to take advice from and to speak with to make sure all aspects are covered.”

Market Board President Evangeline Sarat said navigating the changing guidelines was no small feat.

“The main challenge was just the dynamic nature of it, especially at the beginning,” she said. “First, there’d be this guideline, and then there was this guideline, then there was this rule. And so, that was somewhat challenging. But we basically took the approach of, ‘OK, we’re going to stay on top of it.’”

Sarat said Baris was crucial in getting everything to run as smoothly as possible. Baris was hired in February to manage the market and expand its reach. She previously led New York farmers’ markets in Branchport, Clifton Springs and Victor. She also manages Red Jacket Orchards’ farm store in Geneva.

“She is phenomenal,” Sarat said. “She has a lot of experience. And she was so connected with all these different organizations that she was able to access information super quick. And I was really happy about that because I don’t have that kind of know-how that she does.”

Sarat said it was that collaboration that helped make opening day a success.

“Opening day was great,” she said. “It was not a ton of vendors and then just a steady, really manageable stream of the community. It never felt overwhelming. I was kind of scared going into it, like, ‘OK, we’re going to have to stop people from going in if we get too many people inside. Are we going to have to tell people to get masks on?’ And none of that. It was really just smooth, and people were very respectful.”

Trumansburg Mayor Rordan Hart applauded the Board’s efforts.

“It wasn’t a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants opening,” Hart said. “It was well thought out and well organized. With those things in place, it alleviates any concerns that anyone should have about whether things will be done safely or not.”

Community feedback was generally positive, Baris said.

“It’s nice to see some familiar faces and some old friends that we haven’t seen since the previous year,” Baris said. “Everyone who was there was happy to be there.”

While opening day went well, Sarat said that there was “a more committed, serious tone” about the place, something Hart echoed.

“The Farmers’ Market started out almost 20 years ago now as kind of a cooperative collaborative where vendors and local farms could gather to sell their produce, and over the last 10, 15 years, it’s grown into something more,” Hart said. “This year is different. This year, with all the precautions and health safety protocols that have to be in place, it’s reverting back a little bit to a place simply for folks to go get fresh produce or other goods that are prepackaged and available for sale.”

Though COVID-19 has created much concern in the community, sources said state farmers’ markets were deemed essential for good reason.

“Some folks do choose to take advantage of the fact that they can get their produce and their items for their household use and household needs at a farmers’ market as opposed to a grocery store,” Hart said. “I think it’s nice that it’s an additional option. More options is almost always better than fewer options.”

Sarat shared that sentiment, adding that oftentimes, the Farmers’ Market is the better option.

“People are incredibly supportive right now of local farmers and vendors because they realize the supply chain is so short, it comes from the farm right to the farmers’ market,” she said. “I think it’s just important to have the Farmers’ Market open right now because I feel like the products are safer … when buying right from the farmer rather than through a long supply chain.”

Baris added that moving forward, the Farmers’ Market can continue to be a safe place for residents to get the goods they need.

“I hope that some regulations will loosen up and things will come back to a little bit more of what we’re used to as normal,” Baris said. “We can still do it very safely. I just hope that people who have concerns about the market see that it’s really no threat. It’s way less threatening than going to the grocery store.”

As time goes on and parts of the state might be able to start the reopening process, Hart said he sees the Farmers’ Market as a possible success story for other business owners to look to.

“The Farmers’ Market can actually be a good model for how those folks can prepare,” Hart said. “The Farmers’ Market actually through this process has put themselves in a position to be a guide, to be a good example and maybe even a resource for how some businesses can put in place their own safety protocols for whenever they are able to open.”

Overall, sources said they were just glad the market was able to open this year.

“My original concerns were not opening it, not having a market,” Baris said. “We were fortunate that markets are dubbed essential. If that hadn’t happened, we know we might not be open.”

The market will run every Wednesday from May to October, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Village Park on Route 96. Live music, food trucks and other meal options are on hold until at least June 3.

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