With summer officially here, many are looking to enjoy locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Many farmers markets, including Meriden and Southington, have decided to open, taking precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
The Wallingford market will not be operating this year, but organizers said they are looking forward to returning in 2021.
The Southington Farmers Market, run by Activate Southington, is set to reopen July 3. It runs every Friday until Aug. 28 from 3 to 6 p.m. on the Southington Green.
“We’re going to take every precaution that’s recommended by the state and local health departments and we will follow that,” said Karen DiGirolamo, the health and & wellness director at the Southington YMCA and a member of the committee that oversees the market. “We will keep them safe and they will be able to come shop and get the things that they look forward to every summer.”
The Southington market worked with the state agriculture department and the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District to open. All vendors were provided a document with the health and safety guidelines and signage will be up at the market to remind people of these rules. Protocols include social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks and only having the farmers touch the produce before handing it over to customers.
“There will be tables in front of their (produce) so that people can’t go in and touch all of the vegetables,” DiGirolamo said.
The market will not include entertainment. Only farmers that participated in last year’s market will be involved.
“We’re just doing the essentials,” DiGirolamo said. “The essential food and we’re going with our vendors that we had last year. We’re not adding anything this year. We know they know the protocols.”
Despite the changes, DiGirolamo is excited.
“Just seeing people on our green to be able to get vegetables and fruit,” DiGirolamo said. “People have been calling left and right so they’re actually excited that we’re going to be doing this. People are cooped up and the farmers have worked so hard to come back. We want them to be able to share their supply and get the food out to people who need it.” Meriden
The Meriden Farmers Market, whose market master is Trifecta Ecosystems, is starting July 11. It will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday on the Meriden Green until Oct. 17. It also worked with the department of agriculture and the city’s health department to follow all necessary protocols.
“We met with the director of parks and recreation, Chris Bourdon, and walked the site at the green and figured out where we are going to place everybody for social distancing,” said Michael Rohde, a city councilor involved with running the market. “We’re also going to be just farmers, at least to start out with. In the past we’ve had multiple other vendors, live music, school lunch programs going on and theme days, all kinds of things for kids. We’re not doing any of the extras because of the safety issues, so we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible.”
The market will also have two battery operated, no touch hand sanitizing stations.
“The farmers themselves will be set up on Mill Street with two tables in front of them so they’ll have plenty of social distancing between them and the customers,” Rohde said.
The market is still offering its doubling dollars program.
“We’re going to be giving out doubling dollars which are double coupons for eligible families and those are families in the SNAP program or elderly,” Rohde said. “We will be giving those out from day one. That’s six dollars of free coupons to use at any of the farmers.”
The Meriden Farmers Market has grown over the past 10 years from having two farmers to seven.
“Everyone knows farmers are always struggling and for us to be a part of them having a good season, we’re happy to do that,” Rohde said.