By Ben Olson
The Sandpoint Farmers’ Market is back, with a few changes.
“It’s going to be a modified market,” Market Manager Kelli Burt told the Reader.
The 32nd season of the Sandpoint Farmers’ Market will open Saturday, May 16 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the city parking lot between Oak and Church streets. Wednesday markets have been canceled until further notice. Live music and special events have also been canceled for the season.
Market organizers determined that they needed a new location because the former space at Farmin Park, as well as Oak Street, were not big enough to allow proper social distancing between vendors, Burt said.
Each vendor will occupy a 10-foot-by-10-foot space with a five-foot buffer between booths, which will be staffed with two employees — one to handle the produce and the other to deal with money from customers.
The city parking lot will be roped off, with a dedicated entrance and exit. The entrance will be located on Oak Street and the exit on Church Street, with volunteers helping to count customers to ensure the market does not exceed a 50-person capacity, per guidelines under the “Idaho Rebounds” reopening plan.
“We ask that people come with one person from their household to shop for other family members,” Burt said. “If it’s a situation where they can’t come with one person, we totally respect that, but we do want to allow for the most families to get in and out as quickly as possible.”
Burt said there will be a limited number of vendors this season, restricted to those selling agricultural products and food packaged to go. The market is discouraging anyone from eating or hanging out in the park, stressing to customers the importance of purchasing their necessities and going home.
“Vendors will be wearing masks and gloves to protect the people they are serving,” Burt said. “There will also be hand-washing stations within the market and we’re encouraging customers to wear face masks as well.”
The city of Sandpoint worked with the Farmers’ Market to come up with these guidelines, Burt said.
“The city was super helpful, and really supportive of looking at other options that would not block off businesses,” Burt said.
The market will also continue taking SNAP and will continue its Double Up Food Bucks program, which matches up to $10 on customers’ EBT cards.
Burt said the market is working on developing an online store, thanks to a grant it received from the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation. She also noted that the market needs volunteers to help count people and educate them on proper social distancing guidelines.
To sign up as a volunteer, and for all other information, visit sandpointfarmersmarket.com.
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