Farmers Market opening postponed until April 25

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The Port Townsend Farmers Market’s opening has been postponed to April 25.

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 the uptown market on April 1, but after receiving many concerns from members of the community, director Amanda Milholland announced March 31 they plan to wait until the governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

“While Jefferson County Public Health, the City of Port Townsend and Jefferson County Health Officer Tom Locke are all in support of the opening of a small farmers market, city officials and I have been receiving lots of requests from community members to postpone the opening while the stay-at-home rule is in place,” Milholland wrote in an email. “Though it is unknown if the order will be lifted by April 25, postponing the opening will mean that the farmers market can have an active online platform, which will enable community members to order and pay for their food for pickup at the farmers market.”

While the market had a plan in place to help maintain social distancing rules and public health, the community’s call for the postponement of its opening was one Milholland could not ignore, despite the effect it might have on local businesses.

“The decision to postpone the opening of the market will hit our newest vendors and beginning farms hardest,” Milholland said. “These businesses don’t have established wholesale, CSA or other markets to rely on during this economic downturn. They depend on the farmers market for a direct-to-consumer marketplace.”

The market also offers food for low-income community members through its SNAP Match program. Once open, the market will launch the dollar-for-dollar SNAP Match program serving shoppers who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT).

For the first three months of the farmers market season, the farmers market will offer dollar-for-dollar matching without a cap.

This means that for every dollar spent on fresh fruits and vegetables, shoppers who use SNAP/EBT will receive a matching dollar good for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Milholland and the JCFM board are working toward launching an online farmers market in place of the open-air market for the time being. They hope to have it up and running in April with a wide selection for fresh produce, pasture-raised meat, dairy, eggs, and other products. Farm-fresh food will be available for purchase online and can be picked up at drop points in the community.

“We are committed to bringing our community food, supporting community health and helping local small businesses and family farms survive and thrive,” Milholland said.

Jefferson County has no shortage of fresh food. To help those in need of local sources, Local 2020 has partnered with the WSU Extension to create a one-site source for all farm, CSA, farm stands and free-food options in the county. To learn more, go to L2020.org.

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