That photo is from March 8th, the last West Seattle Farmers’ Market before markets were shut down by order of Mayor Jenny Durkan, who grouped them with other “permtted events.” Today is the second Sunday without a WSFM; the order affected others around the city too. Market managers have launched a letter-signing campaign to get the mayor to change her mind. They’re asking for signatures. The letter begins:
To Mayor Durkan & City of Seattle Partners,
It is our firm conviction that farmers markets are an essential part of Seattle’s food supply and that they should remain open, along with grocery stores, during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are gravely concerned about the abrupt closure of farmers markets at a time when food supply chains and our economy are under threat.
The truth is, if we cannot support and strengthen our region’s farmers during this crisis, that many small farms will not recover from the market closures and that our local food supply and regional network of farmland will be forever changed. Moreover, farmers markets serve shoppers who rely on using their SNAP and SNAP-incentive benefits like Fresh Bucks to purchase fresh food. For those who have already withdrawn benefits at the markets, they cannot now use them at grocery stores.
We are calling on City of Seattle leaders in local government to:
1) Designate farmers markets as an essential business and exempt them from the blanket suspension of permitted events;
2) Work with market management organizations to approve operating plans that support public health orders and CDC guidance on distancing, sanitation, and employee health, and;
3) Commit to closing the policy loophole that lumps farmers markets in the City of Seattle with events, festivals, and other street-use events.
We urge leaders in Seattle to take the actions above, and ultimately to ensure that Washington’s small family farms can continue to provide a vital service in feeding the community during a time of increased need.
The letter goes on to mention other areas of the country in which farmers’ markets are designated as “essential” businesses – you can see for yourself in San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order, for example. The letter also notes that the markets also have not been part of any of our governor’s orders, just the city. If you are interested in signing, go here and scroll to the bottom.
Meantime, market managers have compiled a long list of vendors and how to get their wares while the markets remain closed, some with pickups and pop-ups in West Seattle – see it here.