British Columbia farmers’ markets open, but with new physical distancing protocols

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Many farmers’ markets in British Columbia are speeding up for their spring seasons, but COVID-19 has forced them to change their operations.

Limiting the number of sellers and customers entering the market, offering curbside pickup and implementing physical distance signage – all similar to the changes brought by some grocery stores – have been part of planning for farmers markets this year.

“There are a few more steps to take this year,” said Greg Unger, director of the Kamloops Farmers’ Market in central interior British Columbia. “In addition to all the normal start-up procedures, we obviously do a lot to make sure that we open securely to the public. “

In Kamloops, this means closing all but one entrance so that organizers can count people as they go, allowing only 50 people to enter the market at a time. The nearby playground will be closed, and no traveling musician or live music will be on site to animate the scene.

No dogs will be allowed, and Unger will walk around to encourage people not to stop to chat with friends.

They also had to limit sellers to food only because food is considered essential, but artisans are not.

Customers will not be allowed to touch the products as they normally would when trying to find the perfect tomatoes or check the ingredients of a product – instead, they will need to tell the seller which item they want in order to be able to get them for them. , thus minimizing the number of people coming into contact with it.

One of the ways that the Kelowna farmers’ market is adapting to COVID-19 is with signs to get in and out. (Frances Callaghan)

The Kelowna farmers market, which usually hosts up to 100 sellers, has now dropped to 15. By limiting the number of sellers, they have been able to ensure that there is a variety of products – from meats and cheese to vegetables and baking – without too much overlap. It also gives suppliers more space between stands.

As in Kamloops, only 50 customers will be allowed at a time in the markets of the cities of Kelowna and Vernon in the Okanagan.

Some suppliers in markets across the province have put their products online, with pickup and delivery options for customers.

Vernon market manager Ingrid Baron said their market fell to around 25 out of 40 suppliers, simply because they also had to cut craftsmen from the list. They have created wider aisles and are installing handwashing stations throughout the market.

“I hope it works,” she said. I think it will. ”

The Vancouver Farmers Market says it is moving forward with its six locations with social security and distancing measures in place.

“What this means on the ground in the different markets is still being worked out, although we are working closely with the city, the park council and [Vancouver Coastal Health] on all of our summer plans, “a spokesperson wrote in an email, adding that more details will come up next week.

In the Victoria area, Esquimalt Farmers Market and Moss Street Market are the only two in operation, according to Esquimalt director Katrina Dwulit. The James Bay market will open in May.

The Esquimalt market was expecting up to 45 sellers in the foreign market, but there were only 13 last Thursday. He has cut out artisans, food trucks and musicians and focuses only on the sale of food products.

Some markets, like the Prince George Farmers Market, do not work at all, but offer offers online.

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