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The exit of the modified farmers market from across the street on Saturday, Apr. 11. During the first farmers market of the season since the quarantine started, a limited amount of people were allowed in at once and vendors inside were spread out, practicing social distancing. // Photo by Thomas Hughes

Bellingham Farmers Market remains running every Saturday

By Courtney Gullett

New guidelines and restrictions allowed the Bellingham Farmers Market to reopen its doors April 11, nearly a month after the market was suspended on March 16. 

The decision to reopen came after Gov. Jay Inslee announced that farmers markets are essential and could remain open on March 23 during his live “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” address. 

“Any essential business or entity allowed to operate under this order must implement rules that facilitate social distancing of at least 6 feet,” Inslee said in the address. 

Farmers markets are considered essential under Inslee’s proclamation because markets support agriculture and food security. 

The Bellingham Farmers Market’s website says, “Farmers Markets are an essential part of our economy and community. Shopping at farmers markets helps to support agricultural producers, ensure food access for all, and builds connections between producers and consumers.” 

The market will be held at its usual location in the Depot Square Market. According to the Bellingham Farmers Market website, the building is open-air and large enough to hold 20 vendors six feet apart. Only one entrance and exit will be open to limit the flow of individuals.. 

The vendor list is expected to change weekly and will be available on Facebook, said Lora Liegel, the Bellingham Farmers Market director. 

The market is also supporting other government recommendations including customers staying home if they’re sick or high risk, limiting interaction with other customers and not handling products before purchase . 

The Bellingham Farmers Market is also encouraging hands-free payments such as debit, credit and electronic benefit transfer. 

The market hosts a rotating list of vendors that carry an array of products including bread, vegetables, cheese and honey. The market will focus on selling farm food products and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program staples only, according to the Bellingham Farmers Market website

“A big kudos to the city of Bellingham and the mayor and health department for creating guidelines to reopen this critical marketplace for farms to stay successful and for local consumers to purchase safe, locally-produced foods,” said Alex Winstead founder of Cascadia Mushroom, a frequent vendor for the farmers market.

Winstead said the open-air environment and short supply chain will keep customers seperated and safe during this crisis. Studies are still being conducted by health agencies such as the FDA to determine if open-air style markets are safe.  

Residents of Bellingham are excited to have the farmers market back despite new rules, said Eddie Carpiobran, a long time supporter of the farmers market.

“The market is taking steps to make sure guests are safe. I was able to feel safe enjoying the farmers market and picking up my groceries. It is exciting to have this community staple back,” Carpiobran said.

The Bellingham Farmers Market plans to keep hosting the market while continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and following the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. The market will continue to be held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 


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