The winds of change brought about by COVID19 continue to sweep across the country in general and Salem in specific. The Salem Farmers’ Market will reportedly operate quite differently this season to allow for social distancing.

I received an email indicating that the Market will open Thursday, June 11, with hours being the regular 3-7 pm. But that pretty much is the only thing unaffected.

The site, at least for the first half of the season, will be relocated from Derby Square/Artists’ Row to 25 Memorial Drive. That is the Bentley School parking lot, south side. Why? Control issues. 

  1. Everyone must wear a face mask.
  2. Only 100 people will be allowed in the Market area at any time.
  3. Single person shopping is encouraged. (Note this means one person per household and does not pertain to relationship status. All are welcome. Only one of you is strongly preferred.)
  4. There will be one-way traffic; signs will be posted.
  5. Food vendors only (farms, seafood, bakeries, prepared foods, etc.) to start. The Board of Health will assess the possibility of craft, soap, and other nonfood vendors at the end of June.
  6. Vendors are being encouraged to consider CSAs and pre-orders, but this will not be organized by the market. We will promote as many pre-order opportunities that we are aware of via social media.
  7. We will not have any bathroom access for visitors.
  8. EBT Machine will not be available for the first few weeks. It uses paper receipts, so a new process will need to be worked out. (HIP may still be available at limited produce vendors, this will be confirmed as soon as possible).
  9. Reusable bags are not allowed; the city has temporarily lifted its ban on plastic bags.
  10. No dogs allowed. We are sorry, but our furry friends can not enter the Market with you.
  11. In the beginning, we will not have any musicians to entertain you and your dance-loving young ones, or community nonprofits present promoting their good work.

According to the email, “these policies may be re-evaluated and changed at any time by the Market Committee and the Board of Health to ensure the safety of all involved.”

So which vendors will be there? The Salem Farmers’ Market Committee won’t be able to tell you too far in advance. Understandably, many vendors may be dealing with staffing and workflow challenges. Getting “to market” will be tricky.

At least the Salem Farmers’ Market will be open. At least the small business vendors will get a chance to market the fruits of their labor. It is one small step back to normalcy.