After the municipality of Bluewater, on the week of March 13, closed the public park that the Bayfield Farmers’ Market uses in the Lake Huron shoreline town of the same name, “We thought, well, we might not be able to open, because we don’t have a place,” says Mary Brown, who manages the market. Three weeks ago, municipal officials relented and allowed the farmer-run non-profit to operate an online pre-order/curbside-pickup market model in the street next to the park. The model is one of two operation-safety protocols that Farmers Market Ontario and public-health officials have developed; the other requires distancing strategies similar to those used in grocery stores.
Provincially mandated safety protocols have meant new purchases. Bayfield, for example, is buying supplies such as plastic bags, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. “We are fortunate,” Brown says. “We have a bank balance on the positive side.” (It’ll be waiving its weekly $17.50 stall fee for vendors this season.) Steve Green, who manages the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market, anticipates added costs not only for sanitation but also for extra equipment, such as hand-washing stations and barricades for crowd control. The market is also looking into using an e-marketing platform. It will add “more than one chunk of $10,000, I suspect,” he says. “Everyone will have additional costs — even the vendors.”