With the assistance of the Delaware Farmers’ Market Coalition, a group of market managers from across the state, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) is issuing protocols to help farmers’ markets safely begin opening starting May 15.
“We want to make sure that opening the farmers’ markets in Delaware is done in a way that maximizes the safety of market staff, family farmers, and the customers who are looking to purchase produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We know a lot more about COVID-19 now and the steps we all need to take to prevent the spread of this disease. Farmers’ markets will not be the same social experience as they were prior to COVID-19, but we hope that Delawareans will utilize the markets as a place to purchase locally produced food.”
The protocols issued by DDA will be in place until further notice and are solely intended to allow farmers to sell produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items that have been directly grown or raised on a farm or prepared in a permitted on-farm kitchen or cottage-food kitchen. Individual farmers’ markets may choose to implement more specific and stringent protocols, but they must at a minimum follow the issued protocols in order to operate and remain open.
“There is nothing better than heading to a farmers’ market in the spring as Delaware grown produce starts to become available. There is a sense of community pride around farmers’ markets that includes supporting our local economy and our family farms,” said Governor John Carney. “With the help of the farmers’ market managers and the staff at the Department of Agriculture and the Delaware Division of Public Health, we are able to allow farmers’ markets to begin opening on May 15 as long as they are able to enact the protocols issued by the Department of Agriculture.”
To create a safer environment for all involved in farmers’ markets, they will no longer be considered a social venue. This means there will be no social gatherings, no entertainment shows or activities, no food trucks or prepared food for consumption on site, no on-site food preparation or sampling, no demonstrations, and no pets allowed, except for service animals.
The Riverwalk Farmer’s Market will open on Saturday, May 16th using the new protocols set by the state.
“We will enclose the perimeter of the market with a barrier, provide a single entrance and exit for the market, restrict the market capacity to one consumer per 150 square feet,” Lang Redden, one of the market managers for the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market, said. “We would also ask that all in attendance abide by the State of Emergency regulation, like wearing masks. We will mark out six-foot spacing for easy guidance, provide six-foot spacing between vendors, provide four-foot clear spacing from the front of vendors and implement one-way traffic throughout the market. For the safety of both consumers and vendors, our market will also provide hand sanitizer and a hand washing station provided by Sound and Secure. In order to create a safer environment, we would not allow demos and have cancelled all entertainment until further notice. We will also limit entry to two people per household.”
The Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is in need of volunteers prepare for the new regulations. Anyone who would like to volunteer can reach out the Downtown Milford Inc. at 302-8390-1180 or reach out through their website at https://www.downtownmilford.org.
If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as headache or digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite) are potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation.
If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, you may not go out in public. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We want to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our farmers’ market community, so if you are sick or have been exposed or are at higher risk for severe illness – stay home, do not go to the farmers’ market.
More information regarding the protocols for opening Delaware farmers’ markets can be found at https://de.gov/buylocal.