After a month of discussions and state decisions to prohibit, and revisions to allow, farmers markets, organizers have decided to cancel the Shelburne Farmers Market this year.
“Gov. Scott had said no farmers markets. Then they relaxed that quite a bit,” Roz Graham said. “That initiated a couple of weeks of discussing and weighing the pros and cons.”
Graham is the president of the Shelburne Business and Professional Association, which founded the farmers market and has sponsored it for 14 years.
She said they were very sorry not to have it, but state regulations required that farmers markets be enclosed during the coronavirus crisis – shoppers are to be given one entrance to enter and leave.
“We would have to put a fence around it and that would be expensive,” Graham said.
Besides concerns about shoppers’ and vendors’ health, there are financial considerations. Each vendor’s booth is required to have at least two people – one to handle money and one to handle vegetables or products, Graham said.
Vendors and shoppers would have been required to wear masks and gloves, so the regulations would have increased the number of volunteers needed.
Volunteers would have been needed for checking people in, checking them out, making sure they used sanitizing stations and a marshal making sure people were keeping social distancing.
Graham said, “It seemed like it was making it not very vendor-friendly and not very-shopper friendly.”
The Shelburne Business and Professional Association founded the Shelburne Farmers Market to continue the success the town had had with its annual Christmas event. They would set up tents in town and businesses would sell their wares.
It was so successful, the Shelburne Business and Professional Association wanted to find a way to build upon that.
“Someone said a farmers market would be beneficial,” Graham said, “because people come from far away and then they stay and shop. That has proved to be very, very true.”
Local merchants and the people who live in town are disappointed to not have the Shelburne Farmers Market, but there is a positive aspect to the cancellation.
Farmers who have sold their produce at the farmers market in years past have seen a growth in community supported agricultural sales.
The Shelburne Business and Professional Association is doing what it can to help facilitate these sales. It is working to get area farmers who are selling their produce through subscriptions to community supported agriculture, or CSAs, on its website at sbpavt.org/shelburne-farmers-market.
For its first 14 years, Tod Whitaker was both manager of the Shelburne Farmers Market and president of the Shelburne Business and Professional Association, but last year he decided he wanted a break.
Both positions were a lot for one person, so it was decided that two people would do the two jobs. Besides Graham taking over as president of the Shelburne Business and Professional Association, Sophie Conway became manager of the Shelburne Farmers Market.