Hitchcock Free Academy Farmers Market
COVID 19 related-UPDATE
As we approach the beginning of the Farmers Market season in Brimfield we face a new challenge with how to provide an essential service to our residents while also taking every precaution achievable to make this shopping experience as safe as possible for these individuals who shop for necessary food items.
The Board of Health wants you to know that these challenges and safety measures are not taken lightly and extensive planning has and continues to take place between the Hitchcock Free Academy, the Farmers Market coordinators and the Board of Health. This planning has taken into account guidance and directive from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the COVID Command Center out of the Governors Office.
The following safety measures will go into effect upon the opening of the farmers market and will be adhered to continuously:
- Signage posted stating individuals who are sick should remain at home
- Gloves will be utilized
- Encouraged use of masks by all individuals (as is inline with the current CDC guidance)
- Hand sanitizer and hand wash stations will be onsite for use by each vendor
- All booths will remain a minimum of 6’ apart (even further in many cases)
- No reusable bags will be allowed at the market
- Tablecloths will not be allowed at all (This will allow for contact surface sanitizing to occur in between each customer).
- Items used for display of product will not be sold to the public and will be discarded
- Sampling of items will be prohibited
- Touching of product will be limited to every extent possible (meaning product will be kept prepackaged wherever possible in a non public area and handled only by vendor to purchaser upon purchase).
- Vendors are working on means to limit cash exchange (possibly using other means of financial exchange like Venmo, PayPal or limited touch card scan).
- Possible means to limit the number of persons shopping at one time if necessary
- Placement of vendor booths and tables to assure largest feasible separations between vendors and customers.
- Changes to patterns of customer flow to capitalize on social distancing
Please note that the importance of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and baked goods by all populations is heavily acknowledged by this Board and we believe there are some additional protections that can be afforded in an open air outdoor market that may not be equally as protective in an indoor market setting like a grocery store.
Additionally, the benefits to persons who may utilize the SNAP program are significant and warrant this Board to explore every possible way to open this essential market while assuring every safety is in place to do so.
If you do receive SNAP benefits but fall into a high risk category, by age or underlying condition risk, and do not feel comfortable attending the market measures are being taken to explore linking you to a volunteer shopper who can assist you in purchasing your products and maximizing your SNAP benefits.
Please note that requirements and guidance are continuing to evolve and we intend to continue to evolve with it. That said, standards, requirements and safety protocols/measures may continue to be added or altered as needed. This may possibly include closure (as a last resort) if warranted.
Please continue to look for information on the Town of Brimfield webpage at www.brimfieldma.org to provide you the latest information and/or changes that may occur.