Farmers’ Markets Return, with Changes 

Outdoor farmers’ markets in Corvallis and Albany will open on Saturday, April 18, followed by the April 22 opening of the Wednesday farmers’ market in Corvallis.   

Farmers’ market officials are working closely with the Oregon Health Authority and emergency committees made up of city and county officials in order to be able to open markets. But it won’t be “business as usual.”  

Farmers’ markets in 2020 won’t look or function anything like a they did in 2019.  

The markets are government-recognized essential businesses that are staying open to provide food that will help the community stay healthy while facing a brutal virus.   

Corvallis and Albany farmers’ markets’ insistence on “farm direct” means that they have a very short supply chain. That means fewer touches on the way to consumers. Farm vendors are selling agricultural products they grew in a six-county area: Benton, Linn, Lincoln, Lane, Marion, and Polk.   

Market Locations  

In Albany, the farmers’ market is in the City Hall parking lot at 4th and Ellsworth and an adjacent piece of 4th Ave. A portable toilet will replace access to City Hall restrooms since public buildings are closed.   

The farmers’ market in Corvallis occupies a street closing on a 1.5 block of 1stSt. and rounds the corner onto Monroe Ave. To provide more space for distancing, the market will immediately spread down Monroe Ave. to 2ndSt. on Saturdays.   

Wednesday markets, normally just a block long, may spread around the corner if needed. Shoppers who have not previously attended on Wednesdays likely will find a reasonable selection on a more lightly attended market day.  

Market shoppers can use features on www.locallygrown.org to search for particular vendors and view interactive maps showing the approximate location of vendors on each market day.   

Hours for all Corvallis and Albany outdoor farmers’ markets are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

The New Reality  

In another year, organizers of outdoor farmers’ markets in Corvallis and Albany might have posted an amusing April Fool’s Day story detailing every feature you love about these market that are deemed antiquated. And then we’d all have a good laugh.   

Now that April Fool’s story has come true. We really are temporarily pruning out the culture in agriculture. We are removing the human touch to save human lives. We are ripping up the social fabric that we spent decades weaving.  

Anything that doesn’t help people acquire food quickly and safely is gone. Anything that might tempt people to linger or stand closer than six feet apart is prohibited.   

Farmers’ markets until now promoted themselves as community gathering places; Our new motto is Shop and Go Home. Even the word “please” has been banished.  

Open air and wide aisles are two factors that local farmers’ markets have going in their favor. But we need full cooperation from our customers and vendors to stay open, keep our community safe, and flatten the curve.  

Customer and Vendor Expectations:   

  • Stay home if you feel the least bit unwell, or have been near anyone who might have been exposed or who exhibits symptoms. 
  • Wash your hands frequently – before coming to the market and anytime you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  • One shopper per household. 
  • Shop for others who should not go out. 
  • Shop with your eyes and buy what you touch! 
  • Shop and go home – don’t linger. 
  • Stay at least six feet away from anyone not in your household (best to leave others at home). 
  • No eating at the market. 
  • Sampling will be prohibited. 
  • The market will set up multiple hand wash stations for customer use. 
  • We are asking every vendor to bring a station for their own use. Some may be shared among two vendors. 
  • No musical performance or educational events.  
  • Food will not be accessible to customers before purchase. Vendors/staff will fetch requested items. Many items will be pre-bagged. 
  • For non-food items, vendors will set up their stalls to prevent customers from touching items they have not bought. 
  • Each market vendor must have a social distancing point person who is accountable for six foot distancing of customers at their stalls. Market staff also will be circulating and correcting problems in common areas. 
  • Restaurant Food is takeout only.  

Other Ways to Get Local Food  

CAFM’s web page has a new tab with a listing of farms and other vendors who are doing online sales, delivery, and pickup options. The purpose is to help local small farms and anyone who is not able to attend farmers’ markets.  

At the same time, we are collaborating on a statewide effort to adopt online pre-order systems with delivery at farmers’ market sites. The aim is to speed transaction times. In person sales will still take place at CAFM sites.  

SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks  

Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Markets and the smaller area farmers’ markets in Linn and Benton counties always redeem SNAP benefits (commonly called food stamps) on customers’ Oregon Trail cards. Matching programs which potentially double the amount that SNAP customers spend on fresh and local foods go a step further by helping families stretch their food dollars and improving the nutritional quality of meals.  

Local food advocates in 2019 won a $1.5 million, two-year appropriation to fund Double Up Food Bucks, a SNAP matching program that served roughly 50 Oregon farmers’ markets in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.   

Relatively new local nonprofit Fresh & Local, First! helps the farmers’ markets in Linn and Benton counties by writing grants and seeking donations on their behalf. This group will take the lead on raising the 30 percent of matching funds not covered by the state money.  

CAFM will return to using Double Up Food Bucks vouchers. Even dollar amounts are matched. Normally the match is capped at $10 per market day. Through April, all Double Up markets are matching SNAP purchases up to $20.   

Farm Direct Nutrition  

Another program that increases access to high quality foods among low-income households is the Farm Direct Nutrition program, which includes both young families (WIC or Women, Infants and Children) and seniors. Gleaning groups also collect perishable produce from vendors and distribute to others in need.