Skeena Valley Farmers Market manager Margo Peill is seen here at the market with Luigi Maddalena in 2018. The market is looking to return to a physical format after going online in response to COVID-19 earlier this year. (File photo)

Skeena Valley Farmers Market looks to reopen

Market switched to online format earlier this year in response to pandemic

The Skeena Valley Farmers’ Market is planning to reopen gradually, beginning Saturday, June 13.

The market has been operating in an online-only format since early May, with the physical market shuttered in response to the pandemic. But the atmosphere in B.C. has relaxed since then, with businesses and organizations slowly reopening.

Now the farmers’ market is looking to follow that trend because the online market has limitations and farmers really need to sell their produce, said Norman Frank, president of the market’s board of directors.

“We’re trying to get our farmers’ produce to the public, and the online thing just really doesn’t work too well,” he said, adding that co-ordinating pickup or delivery of purchased food was difficult with the online format. “We’re trying to get our farmers’ produce to the public, and the online thing just really doesn’t work too well.”

The plan is to reopen the market in phases, with phase one consisting only of agricultural vendors.

“The reason for that is we just don’t know what kind of a response we’re going to get from the community, and we’re concerned, and the City is concerned, about crowd control,” Frank said.

Entry and exit from the market will be tightly controlled, with tables set up at the entrance to the market with hand sanitizer and towels. Signs will be in place reminding people to keep their distance from one another and reminding people not to loiter.

“It always has been a social event for everyone, but this year is different, we can’t have people inside that area that is secured, we can’t have them waiting inside there for half an hour talking with friends and that kind of stuff,” Frank said. “It’s going to be a situation where you go in, buy what you have to … and leave, and let the next person come in.”

If phase one goes well, the market will proceed to phase two which will include vendors selling things like preserves, baked goods, and coffee. Frank said he hopes phase two will be only one week after phase one. However, craft vendors will not be able to participate in the market until B.C. lifts the two-metre physical distancing recommendation, as there is limited space within the market.

Frank said he was to meet Northern Health officials at the market site so they could ensure the market will be safe and follow health guidelines.

The market also had to send a COVID-19 safety plan to the City of Terrace, which is currently under review. Carmen Didier, director of leisure services for the City, told council at a June 2 meeting that her department approved the market reopening in principle, with confidence that the market’s safety plan would be in order.

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