Meet The Neighbors: Albany Farmers’ Market

Meet The Neighbors: Albany Farmers’ Market
April 8, 2020 Lise Grato

In another year, organizers of outdoor farmers’ markets in Corvallis and Albany might have written an amusing April Fool’s Day story detailing every feature you love about the farmers’ market that is deemed antiquated. And then we’d all have a good laugh.

“Now that April Fool’s story has come true, we really are temporarily pruning out the culture in agriculture,” says Rebecca Landis, Market Director. “We are removing the human touch to save some humans. We are ripping up the social fabric that we spent decades weaving.”

Farmers’ markets are government-recognized essential businesses that are staying open to provide food that will help the community stay healthy while facing a brutal virus.

Our farmers’ markets’ insistence on “farm direct” means that we have a very short supply chain. That means fewer touches on the way to consumers. Farm vendors are selling agricultural products they grew in a six-county area: Benton, Linn, Lincoln, Lane, Marion and Polk counties.

Working closely with the Oregon Health Authority and emergency committees made up of city and county officials in both of our counties, Landis will be able to open both markets. But it won’t be “business as usual.”

The outdoor farmers’ markets in Corvallis and Albany will open on Saturday, April 18, followed by the April 22 opening of the Wednesday farmers’ market in Corvallis.

In Albany, the farmers’ market is in the City Hall parking lot at 4th and Ellsworth and an adjacent piece of 4th Avenue. A portable toilet will replace access to City Hall restrooms since public buildings are closed.
Market shoppers can use features on www.locallygrown.org to search for particular vendors and view interactive maps showing the approximate location of vendors on each market day.

Hours for the Albany Farmers’ Market is 9 am to 1 pm.

“Anything that doesn’t help people acquire food quickly and safely is gone,” added Landis. “Anything that might tempt people to linger or stand closer than 6 feet apart is prohibited.”

“Farmers’ markets until now promoted themselves as community gathering places, Our new motto is Shop and Go Home. Even the word “please” has been banished.”

Open-air and wide aisles are two factors that local farmers’ markets have going in their favor. But they need full cooperation from their customers and vendors to stay open and keep our community safe and #flattenthecurve.

Customer expectations:
– Stay home if you feel the least bit unwell OR have been near anyone who might have been exposed OR who exhibits symptoms
– Wash your hands frequently – before coming to the market and anytime you touch your eyes, nose or mouth
– One shopper per household
– Shop for others who should not go out
– Shop with your eyes and buy what you touch!
– Shop and go home – don’t linger
– Stay at least 6’ away from anyone not in your household (best to leave others at home)
– No eating at market

Significant changes began March 14 at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market, and the list of strategies has only grown as farmers’ markets have received information from health authorities, and markets have shared new strategies. The following is only part of what vendors and the market are doing.

– Sampling will be prohibited.
– The market will set up multiple handwash stations for customer use.
– We are asking every vendor to bring a station for their own use. Some may be shared among two vendors.
– No musical performance or educational events.
– Food will not be accessible to customers before purchase. Vendors/staff will fetch requested items. Many items will be pre-bagged.
– Even for non-food items, vendors will set up their stalls to prevent customers from touching items they have not bought.
– Each market vendor must have a social distancing point person who is accountable for six-foot distancing of customers at their stalls. Market staff also will be circulating and correcting problems in common areas.
– Restaurant Food is take-out only = No eating at the market!

SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks
Albany Farmers’ Market always redeems SNAP benefits (commonly called food stamps) on customers’ Oregon Trail cards.

For more information and a detailed press release, visit locallygrown.org