Digital farmers market allows for safer local purchases

Digital farmers market allows for safer local purchases

Lily Haight
lhaight@ptleader.com

Jefferson County Farmers Market launched an online farmers market April 21 where people can order local fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products online to maintain safe social distancing measures put in place by the state.

Grocery stores and farmers markets are considered essential businesses under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order because they provide essential food to the communities they serve.

Originally, the Jefferson County Farmers Market Board planned to open on April 1, but after receiving many concerns from community members, director Amanda Milholland announced the organization would postpone its opening.

In the meantime, with the help of a grant from the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the board opened an online market to help people safely receive local products each week and minimize the number of shoppers at the market.

At the website, jcfmarkets.localfoodmarketplace.com, shoppers can select items from vendors they will likely recognize from past years attending the market. Farms such as Red Dog, Finnriver, Midori and Hopscotch offer single items such as half-pound bags of spinach and other veggies while also offering boxes of mixed vegetables the farmers select for you.

Mystery Bay Farm and Chimacum Valley Dairy offer cheese, milk and other dairy products, while Pane D’Amore and White Lotus offer freshly baked bread.

“During our first week of store operation, we plan to offer small and large mixed seasonal produce boxes, seasonal veggies by the bunch and pound, eggs, farmstead cheese, hard cider, herb mixes, jam, pickles, relish, bread, hand-made soap and cloth face masks,” Milholland said. “We anticipate that our offerings will grow each week as we move into the summer and local produce offerings increase.”

Shoppers can order online Wednesday and Thursday and pick up their orders on Saturday at the market booth on Tyler Street between 9 a.m. and noon.

Pick-up times will be staggered to help keep lines at the market booth down.

The online market will accept credit and debit payments, SNAP/EBT and checks at the market. SNAP shoppers can use both their SNAP benefits and the market match to purchase eligible groceries.

“While the site is still growing, we expect that about 30 of our local farm and food producers will participate in the online store this season,” Milholland said. “It provides local farm and food vendors the opportunity to reach local shoppers when the farmers market is operating at a smaller capacity due to COVID-19. It also ensures that your community has access to locally grown and made food even when we are keeping physical distance.”

Now that the online store is up and running, the market will also open with fewer vendors on April 25.

It will be a small, heavily monitored market on Tyler Street with about 14 vendors on the opening market day rather than the usual 70 or more.

A limited number of people will be allowed to enter the market at a time. All will be asked to wash their hands, and the market staff and vendors will be wearing face masks. The CDC recommends individuals going out in public wear cloth face masks as well.

“When it comes to quality and nutrition, there is nothing like fresh, seasonal food purchased directly from the producer,” Milholland said. “We want to make sure that as many of you as possible have access to fresh, local foods.”