FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Farmers’ Market hoping to reopen in ‘extremely modified’ format

Last week, we published reader photos of West Seattle Farmers’ Market vendors who had set up tents for pre-order pickups in what looked like an unofficial mini-market of sorts. Today, we went through The Junction at noon to see if there was a rerun; there wasn’t – the only sign we saw of vendors was one truck parked on the east side of California, one van on the west, no tents/booths. Tonight, we have an update from Jennifer Antos, executive director of Neighborhood Farmers’ Markets, the nonprofit that runs WSFM and others:

Dear West Seattle Blog Community,

The Neighborhood Farmers Markets recently shared a Community Update intended to clarify that farms, food, and farmers markets have been deemed an “essential business” by Governor Inslee, and what we are doing to modify our operating plans as we work in partnership with Seattle King County Public Health and the City of Seattle to re-open the markets.

Prior to the mandated closure of the farmers markets by the City of Seattle on March 13, we had modified our operations and will continue to act to ensure the safest access to fresh, nutritious food from local producers. While the closure of the markets has afforded us a chance to revise our operations for everyone’s safety, it is important to note that the Neighborhood Farmers Markets, farmers markets across Washington State, and agricultural producers are designated as an “essential business.” A full list of essential businesses including farmers and farmers markets is located here. Direct-to-consumer farmers are no exception, and while the markets are suspended, all have pivoted to conduct business while adhering to public health mandates, city, and statewide orders.

While farmers markets are often social spaces, it is important not to confuse this as the primary purpose. Our commitment is to farm and food-only markets that support Washington’s small family farms, food access for all, and the direct connection between people and their food. In 2019, farmers markets across Seattle processed over half a million dollars in SNAP/EBT and Fresh Bucks, donated thousands of pounds of food to local food banks like the West Seattle Food Bank, and enabled fresh food purchases subsidized by WIC and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

We are in constant communication with the City and Public Health to create plans that ensure strict distancing, sanitation, and health measures are the premise. Though we do not yet have a date for when the markets will re-open, we are actively communicating these measures so that everyone is prepared for the markets to re-open – shoppers, vendors, and our community. It is important that shoppers know farmers markets will be extremely modified upon re-opening. We will be banning the public from touching produce, encouraging pre-paid orders, requiring gloved staff select and bag product, increasing distance between vendor booths, and providing demarcation for shoppers to increase social distancing. We are exploring a possible expansion of market footprints and/or limitation of the number of shoppers at any one time, which may be different at each market site. A summary of measures can be found in the Community Update here.

Speaking on behalf of all NFM farmers, producers, and staff, we appreciate of the enormous amount of support we’ve received in our work to re-open farmers markets. We submitted the public letter of support to our partners with over 1,500 signatures and remain as committed as ever in our mission to strengthen Washington’s small farms as we feed Seattle. This month, we will launch a fundraising campaign to support farmers affected by the market closures and hope to exceed our goal of $250,000. Those interested in donating can do so here.

And if anyone is seeking to order products or food directly from the farmers who typically attend the West Seattle Farmers Market, you can find a list of options on our homepage.

Today was the fourth marketless Sunday since the last one (March 8th) before the mayor’s order.

24 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Farmers' Market hoping to reopen in 'extremely modified' format"

  • Jkk April 5, 2020 (7:42 pm)

    You are going to get us all killed.   People should not gather like this.  They have roped off play areas because people couldn’t understand to no play on equipment when the parks are closed!!!!  People need reminders not to get too close and honestly you almost don’t even know you are too close to someone once you start talking.   It’s automatic to want to talk to people closely or walk up to someone you recognize.   If these markets open.  It will be like Louisiana and their need to congregate in churches.   And then they wonder why they have hundreds of deaths in the days after that.  This is not a good idea.  Period.  I sympathize I do  with. Lost money and the need to get food to people.  But having a farmers market is worse than going to the grocery store.  Period.  This should be reported to police enforcement.  

    • AJP April 5, 2020 (8:45 pm)

      It absolutely will not look like Louisiana churches. Please. They are working very hard to bring fresh food in a safe way. Outside, too. Fresh air is much better than indoor air. Frankly this is probably safer than going to a grocery store. Far fewer people handling the food, much easier to maintain social distance without aisles blocking your movement. Think about this logically. 

    • The Rog April 5, 2020 (9:57 pm)

      Please stop with the dramatics. I work at a grocery store and guarantee you that the grocery stores and behavior of customers inside these stores is far more dangerous than any market in this town. Not to mention the integrity of the farmers/ businesses selling their product. I trust their practices and standards 1,000 times more than those of the store managers and some store workers, and opinions from the general public certainly don’t make things more safe. Let’s all consider supporting the people who are nurturing on a very real level rather than the grocery stores alone. We are lucky to have these hard working folks willing to feed us and keep us healthy and safe. No matter if you need to go to the market or the store-Please consider first, can/ should I  stay home? Consider if you really need to go out or not. Maximize every trip. Coordinate with neighbors to lessen the traffic. Can you order ahead and pick up? Make lists and look up recipes before leaving. If you are more than one, designate the other (s) to stay in the car. Do not linger in aisles or in front of booths. If picking up orders stay in your vehicle and don’t crowd the workers. Speak up if you need something before you approach someone so as to not crowd them. We can be sensible and safe. And huge appreciation to Green Bow and every other vendor learning to navigate through the nutso situations were in. You all are keeping me going.

      • The Rog April 5, 2020 (10:13 pm)

        I’d like to note some major appreciation to all of the truckers and delivery drivers, grocery workers, and cleaners. You are all bad asses as you are all angels. Mostly though I’d like to give some major love to the fire department, police, nurses and doctors, morgue staff, and the clean up crew. I wish you all safe travel to and from work, and a good nights rest as you are tougher than we understand and I appreciate your work ethic. Thank you and stay safe out there. Let’s all do our part and leave that low bridge open for emergency vehicles, cargo, and transit because the patience those heroes possess deserves at the very least a safe and effective route to and fro.

    • Bill April 5, 2020 (10:15 pm)

      Just want to note that it is not “Louisiana and it’s need to congregate in churches”, it’s one pastor and his church. The rest of the state seems to be abiding as much as we are here in WA. No need to pretend otherwise.

    • LC April 5, 2020 (10:51 pm)

      Jkk, aside from the Louisiana churches comment, I am with you on this. While some people will get in and out quickly, the longing to shop and be social has the potential to make this a dangerous place. It sounds like some vendors have arranged pickups with customers, and I support that. Maybe online ordering and payment, with pickup points on separate corners around the junction. Farm fresh food, without the social interaction and risk! Separation is the only way to win this battle, and we’ll get back to normal faster if we stay the course. 

  • bolo April 5, 2020 (7:52 pm)

    A very welcome announcement. I will support bigly.

  • blbl April 5, 2020 (8:07 pm)

    No thanks.  If, when the markets are allowed to re-open, you need to take such measures then you shouldn’t re-open;

    • KM April 5, 2020 (8:16 pm)

      Man, if these measures bother you, just wait until you hear about places called “grocery stores”

      • Blbl April 5, 2020 (9:29 pm)

        The ban distinguishes between grocery stores and farmers markets because they are not the same. 

        • Elton April 5, 2020 (11:22 pm)

          KM’s point is that grocery stores have changed a lot: plexiglass for cashiers, no personal bags, limited number of people in the store, 6 ft markers in line, etc. So by your logic, grocery stores should already be closed and no store should reopen for over a year since that’s how long it’ll take for a vaccine to allow us to shop in any store without fear of covid. All businesses will have to adjust. 

  • WestSideDad April 5, 2020 (8:35 pm)

    Jkk (Joke?) Everyone is paranoid enough without your fear mongering.   No one is forcing you to go. Stay at home and hide+ order all your food from corporations.  Some of us shelter in place and have been for almost a month already!   We frankly want leave the house.   People will simply drop by and get some items.  The people going to the market will be locals and I’m sure we can follow the rules.   Be safe, support the farmers and local business’s.  Facts  not Fear!  They should set up tape for lines like most places and perhaps don’t bring your dog/entire family.   Stay Smart WestSide!   –   WestSideDad  

    • Erin98126 April 5, 2020 (9:36 pm)

      Well said! 

    • Jkk April 6, 2020 (5:43 am)

      Yes, no one is forcing me to go.  But what you do or what others do may eventually effect a lot of people.  Pretending this isn’t serious and wanting to leave the house “which we all want to do” is just moronic.   And yes I’ve been sheltered in place since March 3.  I’ve had local deliveries from local vendors and am doing my best to help local business (thank you for assuming I only use big corporations). Yes people are trying to find creative ways to communicate.  I understand the farmers need money.  Just like dog walkers and a lot of other small businesses that don’t have a choice to open.   The vendors at the farmers market should be considered as a gathering place.  Tony’s market has one place where he can control how many people are in the tent at one time.  It’s a business that has a physical location (like a grocery store) where people can pay attention to space and get fresh veggies.   A market in the open for two blocks. Not worth the risk.  And I’m not freak mongering.  I’m being practical.  I am considered to be in a high risk group if I do get sick.   It seems like we are split.  Either you think this is no big deal to go out and run some errands.  Or you are listening to the governor.  Staying at home and supporting local business.  If the vendors at the farmers market could take orders over the phone and do a no contact carry out situation as the other restaurants are doing then fine.  But people will go. Falling to old patterns and not even realize  there are closer than they need to be.   ANY gatherings are not supposed to happen.   To me this is very selfish.  If we let the market happen.  We should let all the dog walkers go back to work. And open coffee shops to walk in service again.   The point is stay away from people.  Not food.  The vendors at the market need to do what the restaurants in the junction are doing.  Everyone is doing hands free deliveries and pay ahead.  This is the reason why our states numbers are actually as low as they are.  Everyone wants to get out and see people and be around people.  This is no excuse to do so.  It’s human nature to go to a market and forget about spacing. And all of the sudden. People are in small ground taking.  This needs to be a grab and go situation hands free.  When the numbers do go up, this will be shut down anyway.  When you have to write a letter as long as in the original post.   It’s almost like they are trying to justify why this is an acceptable practice.  It’s NOT.  Please for everyone’s sake.  Stay home unless it’s extremely necessary.   Or don’t and infect not only yourself but a lot of others.  Every risk should be weighed.   Going to an emergent dentist apt.  Taking your pet in for an emergency.  These are things to go out for.  Everything else you can get delivered and be part of the solution instead of part of the people that think this won’t effect them.  Think about it.  You can’t help your family if you are dead.  

  • Wolfgang April 5, 2020 (8:40 pm)

    We’ll probably reach a point where we are taking temperatures of shoppers before allowing them in somewhere at this rate. 

  • Anna April 5, 2020 (8:44 pm)

    I fully support this and look forward to shopping. It seems much easier to socially distance outside, anyways. 

  • Cautiously optimistic April 5, 2020 (9:14 pm)

    The issue isn’t the market and wether or not it’s products are essential, so much as the behavior of people at the market, and wether or not they will adjust and act responsibly, and if enough can be done to help manage that.

    I personally don’t think the farmers market needs to be much different than going to the grocery store.  In other parts of the world, farmers markets are more about essential shopping and less about a social outing.

    At this time, we can choose to shop at the market efficiently, get what we need without being leisurely about it, keep some distance from others, practice good hygiene before and after, and it can be an outing much like going to the grocery store right now.

    It will be nice to have expanded shopping options while also supporting our local food growers and suppliers.

    I understand others concerns because there may be that small percentage of people not acting responsibly. The people that will want to linger and congregate and socialize, when it’s not safe to do that right now. I really hope this won’t be an issue at this point, and I’m cautiously optimistic.

    I worry a bit about it being overcrowded when they first reopen, because many might want to support it. Maybe extending market hours could help with this?

    It was probably good the market closed for a few weeks, which has allowed people some time to adjust to our current reality, and hopefully when they reopen, people will patronize responsibly and respectfully.

    I hope their reopening goes well and safely.

    People should make decisions for themselves about where it feels safe and reasonable to shop for their essentials, and continue to stay home as much as possible.

    • Anne April 5, 2020 (10:10 pm)

       REPLY“The issue isn’t the market and wether or not it’s products are essential, so much as the behavior of people at the market, and wether or not they will adjust and act responsibly, and if enough can be done to help manage that.”Yes-exactly-it’s not fear of Farmers Market or their products-it’s more trusting those shopping there-to practice social distancing. 

    • Calires April 5, 2020 (11:51 pm)

      This would be so perfect, if not for the imperfect humans.  I have seen better behavior from people in stores than I have outside on the sidewalks.  It seems like they are fairly paranoid indoors, but once outdoors, they think everything is safe and get too close to people.  In theory, it seems like the farmers market would be safer, but I’m going to listen to the scientists on this, like everything else in this crisis.

  • Rob April 6, 2020 (11:50 am)

    Don’t like it? Living in fear? Good. Stay home. Less chicken littles in my way As I shop for my healthy stuff. 

  • Chris April 6, 2020 (1:07 pm)

    I support this and I hope that I can go as planned. Maybe change the hours to start at 8 AM until noon? Also, you should be worried that one photograph of a crowded farmers market could be a public relations nightmare for everybody involved… could you have a system to limit crowds?

  • Mickymse April 6, 2020 (2:52 pm)

    And can folks remember this is about RISK reduction? You don’t catch a virus by standing next to someone and you aren’t magically safe if you stand exactly six feet away. The six foot guidance is a “fence” to help guide you towards the lowest risk possible, acknowledging that you should lessen contact with others.

    Shopping at the grocery store, for example, is far more dangerous than walking past someone on the sidewalk outside. Clustering together by the entrance to a restaurant for 10 minutes while waiting for your takeout order is far more dangerous than children skateboarding outside and keeping a reasonable distance apart from each other.

    This is also why folks are being recommended to wear face masks or scarves when going out — even if you maintain a 6-foot distance, It’s also why stores are taking all of the recommended public health precautions AND ALSO putting up “sneeze barriers” in front of the cashiers. Assume we all have it, and could expose those around us.

    We’re trying to reduce risk and limit exposure in order to stop transmission. That is how you should be approaching this. And if the risk level isn’t comfortable enough for you, then by all means stay home. But there’s not some magic barrier happening here. Or one activity that is totally okay while another one is killing grandma.

  • Blbl April 6, 2020 (3:44 pm)

    People discussing certain behavior being “safer“ than other behavior have no idea what they’re talking about. It is simply their opinion. Ever notice how you can smell pot 20, 30, 50 or more feet away from the person smoking?  If coronavirus is carried in the air like pot, six feet is nothing.  Six feet is for sneezes and coughs. Six feet doesn’t mean you are safe.  Holding an unnecessary farmers market is a huge mistake, and people who go are recklessly endangering their community.

  • Mildredoconner April 7, 2020 (1:19 pm)

    What no one here seems to acknowledge is the shopping dynamics created to feasibly erect and disassemble a store to use for 4 hours. You have a tiny storefront 10 feet wide to both view and purchase with one sales point and a short shopping window. People must literally tippy toe or push through to even see the merch. I have never had so many shoppers crawling up my butt while tripping me with their dogs- than when I’m trying to buy at the farmers mkt. it’s a terrible idea to open now. It’s selfish to go- as you will foster transmission in our community. Don’t do this!!

Sorry, comment time is over.