B.C. farmers' markets hoping online deliveries will offset market closures during COVID-19

Kamloops Farmers Market on April 20, 2019.

One win that we might have despite all of the closures due to COVID-19? Farm fresh food delivered right to you.

Farmers’ market directors from three Thompson-Okanagan cities says the provincially-run B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets plan to release an online method to connect consumers with farmers, which should be announced next week.

And it could come just in time because many markets around the province have been cancelled while the provincial government attempts to keep public interaction to a minimum.

The Kelowna Farmers’ Market scheduled for tomorrow and March 28 have been cancelled and market director and vendor David Price said it likely wouldn't stop there.

“This time last week, we were getting kudos, saying ‘Outside markets aren’t so bad, it’s better than 100 people inside of a Costco breathing and touching and whatever else’…. Tomorrow’s a different day,” Price says. “We’re kind of in limbo right now. As far as we know, we're still set for opening on April 4 but I’ll be talking to the (Orchard Park Mall) on Monday or Tuesday about that.”

Ingrid Baron, manager of the Vernon Farmers' Market, says their operations are also in limbo as they await further government instruction. For now, the markets have been cancelled, but she says there are some farmers which offer delivery listed on the market’s Facebook page.

“A lot of the managers are feeling defeated, because you come up with one thing, and it doesn't work out, and then you come up with another plan, and that doesn’t work out,” Baron says. “We’re just going to have to wait and see what they say. We’re on municipal property, so that could be our biggest issue.”

While Kelowna and Vernon face closures for now, Greg Unger, director of the Kamloops Farmers’ Market, says they are still good to go ahead, so long as direction from the province or municipal government doesn’t change that plan.

“We’re planning on following a list of suggested practices… we’re going to be advising customers and vendors to not attend if they're feeling at all sick, we’ll be putting up hand washing stations and hand sanitizers at each entrance, regularly cleaning high touch surfaces, limiting the number of people who are in the market in order to keep a social distance,” Unger says. “We’re not going to have any buskers or any entertainment, because anything that leads to crowding, that increases public risk.”

In addition to the safety measures, customers will be encouraged to leave their dogs at home, keep shopping trips short and vendors will be spaced two meters apart, which Unger says will create a significant change to the look and product availability at the market. Priority will go to the produce and food vendors, and Unger expects there to be around 25 to 50 vendors, while last summer they had 104 registered.

Even if the market still goes ahead, you might prefer to purchase items for delivery.

Until the online portal is available, we’ve found a few farms and services that will offer boxes of fresh produce, meat or eggs for delivery. Let us know if there are any farms that we have missed.

KAMLOOPS

Crazy 8cres

Thistle Farm

VERNON

Keenan Family Farm

Tanya- Ray Fishing - Wild B.C. Salmon and Tuna

PENTICTON

Little Fork Ranch

KELOWNA

Unearthed Organics

Check out Urban Harvest Organic Delivery, LocalMotive or Farm Bound for second-party delivery services while the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Market launches their own system.


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