Photo: Belmont Farmers Market is readying for the 2020 season.
With so many of Belmont’s annual events postponed and popular stores are closed, it will no doubt that residents will be happy to hear the Belmont Farmers Market is scheduled to open for the 2020 season on time in early June after a unanimous vote of the Select Board on Monday, April 27.
“The governor has farmers markets on the list of essential businesses and an important part of the local food system especially now,” said Hal Shubin, the chairman of the farmers market located in Belmont Center which is part of the Belmont Food Collaborative.
But there will be some significant changes to the way shoppers and vendors will be doing business as the COVID-19 pandemic will alter the relaxed meandering zeitgeist of past market days in Belmont.
“[Town officials] have developed a list of criteria that the farmers market will observe in their operations to make it safe, but the whole operation … will be subject to over oversight by the Board of Health,” said Shubin. “My goal is always to understand what the rules are so that we can make sure that they’re enforced.”
The first change is the market will be located on a larger footprint in the rear of the Claflin Street parking lot, allowing greater spacing between vendors, Shubin told the board.
“Right now the stores in the center are closed and that’s obviously really unfortunate, but while they’re closed, there’s a lot of room in the parking would like to expand … the market so we can allow proper social distancing,” said Shubin.
“When social distancing rules are relaxed, the stores will reopen and at that point, we should be able to return to our usual area,” he said.
- There will be markings on the pavement before each booth where customers will stand in line to allow for social distancing.
- Shoppers will trek through the market in a “one-way” direction to minimize accidental contact with others.
- The number of patrons within the market area will be capped at 40 to prevent any crowding that could make social distancing difficult.
- There will also be hand washing facilities and sanitizers in the market’s confines.
What will be missing this year are the events and entertainment the market hosted each season; from children reading by Belmont Public Library librarians, a wide array of musicians, samples by local restaurants as well as visits by magicians and balloon artists.
“We are focusing on getting people in and out,” said Shubin. “We’re going to encourage people to come alone and to leave their children [at home].”