Port Townsend Farmers Market opens Saturday with changes

The iconic mascot for the Jefferson County Farmers Markets gains a face mask as the Port Townsend market reopens Saturday with increased safety precautions to discourage the spread of COVID-19. “Flora” was a chalk drawing done by Chris Witkowski for the market in 2003. (Jefferson County Farmers Market Association)

The iconic mascot for the Jefferson County Farmers Markets gains a face mask as the Port Townsend market reopens Saturday with increased safety precautions to discourage the spread of COVID-19. “Flora” was a chalk drawing done by Chris Witkowski for the market in 2003. (Jefferson County Farmers Market Association)

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Farmers Market will open Saturday with increased safety measures and online ordering as officials work to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The market will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Tyler Street.

The shorter time frame is so staff members can keep up with added sanitation practices, and the hours may change after this weekend, officials said.

The market’s safety plan has been approved by Jefferson County Public Health, city of Port Townsend and Jefferson County officials, as it is considered a form of a grocery store, said Amanda Milholland, director for the Jefferson County Farmers Markets (JCFM).

Market staff members will have a set entry and exit point and will monitor the number of people in the market to ensure it doesn’t have too many at one time.

Customers also can take advantage of a new way to shop: online ordering.

Milholland and her team have designed an online version of the market in which people can order items they need from 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays to 1 p.m. Thursdays and pick up their items on Saturday.

Pickup times are spread between three one-hour windows divided by last name to limit crowds at the market, Milholland said.

The online market and more information on the new safety measures can be found at jcfmarkets.org.

Customers will receive their pickup window when they order online, and their cards will be charged at the booth Saturday, as many items are sold by the pound and need to be weighed to get the exact price, Milholland said.

Reorganizing the market, which was postponed from its initial opening date of April 4, has been a big job, Milholland said.

“It’s been a lot of work, but we’re really excited about what we’re able to offer to the community with a tight market and with the online order offering opportunities to more vendors,” Milholland said.

The success of the farmers market depends on the responsibility of the market staff, vendors and the community members who attend following the added safety measures, she added.

Online orders will be put together by individual vendors on Thursday and Friday and combined Saturday to limit the number of people handling the items, Milholland said.

There will be 15 vendors at the physical market, but 30 have signed up to participate online, offering more variety and supporting more local vendors, she said.

People can pay with debit or credit cards online. For SNAP/EBT users, a selection allows a person to pay in person and use produce matching benefits.

The market is trying to avoid using cash as much as possible, Milholland said.

Other safety changes include vendors’ booths being 10 feet apart. Vendors are encouraged to use market tokens, credit/debit cards, or EBT/SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) cards when possible.

The Jefferson County market association also will launch its dollar-for-dollar SNAP match program at the market. For every dollar a customer spends on a SNAP/EBT card, the farmers market will provide an extra dollar for farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, Milholland said.

The market will have hand-washing and sanitizing stations for customers, who will be asked to wash their hands before they enter and to wear a face covering/mask while in the market.

Vendors and staff will be cleaning and sanitizing booths, restrooms and other surfaces frequently throughout the day, Milholland said.

The market association asks shoppers to have grocery lists prepared in advance, respect 6 feet of distance between shoppers and vendors, purchase their groceries without touching other food and leave without lingering, Milholland said.

Another request is that only one person per household be sent to the market to shop, she said.

The other two farmers markets run by the Jefferson County association are set to open this summer: the Chimacum Farmers Market in June and the Wednesday Port Townsend market in July.

The Sequim Farmers Market is scheduled to open May 16. The Forks Farmers Market also is expected to open in May.

The Port Angeles Farmers Market, which is closed until further notice, is offering information about other options — such as delivery, online sales and community pickup sites — on its Facebook page and through its weekly newsletter, to which people can register at farmersmarketportangeles.com/market.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].