ST. GEORGE — After having to shift from in-person shopping to online orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Modern Farm and Artisan Co-op farmers market in Ancestor Square will reopen for in-person shopping June 6.
The market fell under the category of a special event through the city, which means when the shutdown occurred the market was not allowed to open as an essential business. Kat Puzey, Modern Farm and Artisan Co-op Founder and Executive Director, said the city was very helpful in trying to find a way to open the market and helped them shift to online shopping, but they had to file a petition to open their outdoor location.
Puzey attributed the reopening to St. George Mayor Jon Pike and the city council members.
When the shutdown went into effect, the smaller farmers and artisans took a big hit, Puzey said. They do not have the following that larger farmers and artisans have that allow them to stay open and sell their produce and products during the pandemic.
“Those small family farms that are outside on their property all day long, that don’t work Instagram and don’t do that because they have relied on us for marketing and relied on us to support them,” Puzey said. “Yeah, it was a huge hit. A lot of our artisans too. The food is one thing, but the artisans here in St. George and all over Utah make all of their money doing summer shows.”
For the first two months of the shutdown, it was hard for the farmers market to pivot to online orders. The rules around the shutdown did not allow them to include artisans, who account for some locally produced essential items including soap, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers. Puzey said some were included in the online shop because of the necessity, but many others had no way of selling their products.
Now that Washington County has moved to yellow on the coronavirus alert level, artisans will be allowed to sell their goods at the farmers market along with farmers and food producers.
“A lot of our artisans and a lot of our food vendors are going to be testing the water, but they were all anxious,” Puzey said of the anticipation to open on June 6. “I have new people that are still calling me asking if they can join, and I’m going to say ‘yes’ because we have restrictions to make it safe.”
The new procedures include 10 feet of space between booths, hand sanitizer at every booth, face masks required for vendors and a one-way shopping experience.
In addition, every vendor will be in charge of keeping spacing between customers, while entry into the market will be limited. Puzey also said there will be no grouping of people allowed, something she has seen while shopping in local stores like Target, Smith’s and Walmart.
Their goal at the market has been to prioritize shopping local and supporting locally produced goods. While there are shortages of meat, eggs and other items during the pandemic, Puzey said there are local providers who are still producing and selling them. The farmers market will give them an avenue to sell these goods.
“If we don’t do it in the times when people need it the most, then what are we doing?” Puzey said.
The farmers market also qualified for the Double Up Food Buck Grant, which allows those using SNAP and EBT to get a certain amount of money per week added on top of their money spent. Their website says the Double Up Food Buck Grant allows the market to match up to $20 a week in fresh fruits and vegetables.
To find out more about this program and the farmers market, go to the Modern Farm and Artisan Co-op website here.
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