The pandemic may have changed a lot of things, but it hasn’t altered the seasons. Spring rain and summer sun have worked their magic and now seasonal fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for market.
It will come as good news that four of Clark County’s outdoor markets are open this year. Only the Ridgefield and Propstra Square markets are closed. (The Battle Ground farmers market was discontinued in 2019 for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.) In true Northwest style, all markets are held rain or shine. All markets also accept electronic benefits transfer cards and are offering a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Market Match up to $20 for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Although the markets are open, it is not quite business as usual. There are some general guidelines that produce-loving market aficionados should follow, set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Farmers Market Association.
Here’s a quick-reference list:
• Wear a mask.
• Stay 6 feet away from others as much as possible.
• Use the hand-sanitizing stations when entering market and after visiting each booth.
• Send only one person from your family.
• Pay with a credit or debit card instead of cash wherever possible.
• Don’t bring pets except service animals.
• Go before you go, so to speak, because public restrooms won’t be available.
• If you can order from vendors beforehand and pick it up at the market, do that.
• Don’t linger at the market — use a list, make your purchases and skedaddle.
• Stay home if you have so much as a sniffle or scratchy throat, or if anyone in your family is sick, or if you have been exposed to anyone who is sick.
Markets have different rules about bagging. Some places ask that you not touch anything unless you intend to buy it and then bag it yourself, while other venues discourage customers from touching anything at all, and letting the vendors bag your purchases for you. Either way, farmers markets are now more of a hands-off experience.
Before going to any farmers market, check its website or call to confirm hours and location and familiarize yourself with COVID-related guidelines.