Under new rules of operation that take social distancing into consideration, the popular University District Farmers Market returned on Saturday after a monthlong hiatus.
The U District Farmers Market’s reopening was the result of a partnership announced this week among the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, Public Health – Seattle & King County and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office. Durkan’s office had originally suspended farmers market permits in mid-March as part of measures the city took to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Ballard farmers market is scheduled to reopen on Sunday.
The U District Farmers Market unfolded along two blocks of the Ave, between Northeast 52nd Street and Northeast 50th Street, with 31 vendors spread along the route. There was at least 10 feet of space between vendors, and strict policies were enacted for safety and social distancing. Only 62 shoppers at a time were allowed to occupy the market’s two-block area, and market staff was around to assist and ensure compliance.
Soon after the market opened Saturday morning, a long line to enter stretched along Northeast 52nd Street, with wait times between 10 and 30 minutes. For shoppers, the Ave became a one-way pedestrian path, with foot traffic moving south.
Frequent sanitizing of tables and equipment took place, and many hand-washing stands were available.
Vendors had also come up with creative ways to do business while still practicing social distancing. For instance, Lynn Swanson, of Glendale Shepherd Farm on Whidbey Island, used a long pole to extend a credit-card reader to customers.
As he’s done for almost two decades, Brent Olsen made the long drive to the market from Colville in northeast Washington. That’s 6 ½ hours each way just to sell grass-fed beef, lamb, pork and specialty potatoes. Of all the vendors, he makes the longest commute to the market — more than 350 miles.
Eiko Vojkovich, co-owner of Skagit River Ranch in Sedro-Woolley, took frequent questions about her organic, grass-fed beef and other products as she stood in the opening of her truck.
A decision on whether the market can return next Saturday will be made early in the week.
Find more information, here.