BETHLEHEM — The Delmar Farmers Market will begin its season on Saturday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elm Avenue Park but customers and vendors must still practice social distancing. The season will continue until the Saturday before Christmas, according to market manager Ken Myer.
Unlike previous years, it will not be held at the Bethlehem Central Middle School as it remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, farmers markets and food-producing farms are considered essential food supply chain industries and are exempt from state-mandated workforce reduction.
Myer said this was one reason why the Delmar Farmers Market can continue its season this year. Besides discussing the possibility with the market’s board of directors, he also received information on how to safely operate the market despite the pandemic with organizations including the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Farmers Market Federation of New York and Farmers Market Coalition.
“We have a really good board of directors and everyone has the same goal in mind,” Myers said. “We want the farmers market to be community-oriented and support vendors. We believe the market will support the community during this difficult time and I’m glad the town of Bethlehem stepped up to allow us to use the Elm Avenue Park this year.”
Following the state Department of Agriculture and Markets’ guidance, he said this year’s farmer market will not have any cooking demonstrations, not allow food sampling and sales of crafts and non-food items, not have picnic tables to prevent people from congregating, and no live music bands. He noted that people cannot eat at the market too and instead should bring their orders home.
He added, “We’re also going to have 15 feet of space between vendors, add more handwashing stations, make hand sanitizers available, have volunteers manage the market’s traffic and have one-way aisles to keep people moving and prevent overcrowding in areas. We will have signs and volunteers to promote social distancing.” Under Gov. Cuomo’s order, all people working and visiting the market must wear masks at all times since it’s an outdoor environment.
Myer brought up an idea that seniors and high-risk individuals with underlying health conditions may visit the Delmar Farmers Market from 9 to 10 a.m. “to give them a bit of peace of mind when coming and not having to worry about so many people around them.” Another idea, he said, is letting vendors provide pre-ordered pickup so customers can quickly collect their orders and leave.
“It will be a different scene this year and we really care about providing service to the community while doing our best to keep them, vendors and board members safe — all while conducting a market,” said Myer. “I really think the first couple of weekends are going to be hectic with many people coming but we’ll continue to have signs made to encourage social distancing and wear masks. I think in the long run, the market opening this year is very good for the community.”
As of Thursday, April 23, there are 55 confirmed vendors throughout this year’s entire market season, 36 of which will be present for the May 16 opening. Anyone interested in volunteering to work at the market is encouraged to email at [email protected]
“I can’t wait for opening day because I think that’s when all the hard work will come down to and we can have some fun,” Myer concluded. “The challenge is to have fun but not endanger anybody. We have to keep people moving in the market but it will be great for everyone to enjoy the outdoors and see their neighbors and vendors.”