Season Update from MCFM’s Executive Director Martha Archer
As we near the end of our 15th summer market season, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to our farmers, makers, staff and community for innovating, iterating and inspiring our work together. While this was not the celebratory summer we had planned, we have so much to be grateful for.
Market staff worked tirelessly to create a safe and viable marketplace in order to help sustain our vendors’ livelihood. Within days of the shutdown in March, we gained approval to continue operations as an essential business. We planned our first pre-order market, trained and built online stores for farmers without internet access and/or with limited technological skills, and innovated safety protocols and marketing plans to successfully execute the first pre-order market in the state.
We worked to ensure our vendors had the tools and support they needed in order to operate in this new model. We shared our best practices with markets throughout the state and country for a ripple effect, providing support to countless self-employed farmers and makers who rely on direct-consumer sales as well as healthy local food to countless community members.
Claudia Fierro-Poppen of Ommie Snacks and Lee Vang of Double Dog Kombucha practicing physical distancing at Market.
While the market continued to operate, our educational programs were cancelled or moved to digital platforms in order to reserve market space and visits for grocery shoppers. We focused on and expanded our food access programs: Greens for Good food donation and SNAP Market Bucks to meet the growing needs of our most vulnerable populations. We continued to pivot to ensure compliance with the latest recommendations. We made essential COVID-19 related physical and logistical changes to provide a safe marketplace for local farmers, makers and our community. Despite these changes, traffic was down 45% and vendor sales were down 30-80%.
We are grateful for our dedicated grocery shoppers who masked up, showed up and shopped. Your support is essential to sustainability of the market, our farmers and makers. By shopping the market you are directly supporting the livelihood of our vendors.
In addition, many of you have provided essential support to the market through Friends of the Market and Harvest Social donations and you supported our community members facing increased food insecurity through our Greens for Good food donation program.
Summer harvest from Bean Market farmers Xai Lor and Tongsee Xiong.
While it was not the same town square marketplace that we all have come to love – where you can while away a Saturday morning sharing your love and appreciation of seasonal produce and your gratitude for the cornucopia of local produce with our hardworking farmers – we are grateful that you made an effort to shop, give thanks and support the wellbeing of our vendors and each other. It is this community spirit that motivates us each day. We are more committed than ever to our mission, and we will continue innovating, leading, and partnering with our networks to accomplish our goals. It’s what we must do to support the livelihood of our farmers and makers and sustain our local food system.
We are all in this together and together we will get through this,
Lynne, her sister Nancy and their neice Lizzie of Singing Hills Dairy.
Support the Market Year Round!
Winter markets will take place select Saturdays November through April from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the train shed and inside the museum. Learn more of the impacts of shopping local in our Winter Market video with Lynne Reeck of Singing Hills Dairy: