Saturday farmers market plan cancelled

Market will resume Tuesday timeslot

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Islanders who planned to purchase farm produce at Centennial Park this Saturday will have to wait until Tuesday, April 21 instead, as the operating society has reconsidered the essential services operation after consultation with the community.

The non-profit Salt Spring Community Market Society, which normally operates the Tuesday Farmers Market in Centennial Park from June through October, had received a permit to operate on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. beginning April 11. With potential confusion with the larger craft and food market that would usually operate at the park on Saturdays and community concern about attracting visitors, the board made the decision to cancel the April 11 market, but to continue with its traditional Tuesday market beginning April 21.

The Tuesday Farmers Market runs from 2 to 6 p.m. at Centennial Park.

As per provincial regulations and regional district permitting, the market will have strict physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.

“The provincial government has designated farmers’ markets as an essential service, but has limited them to food and beverage sales, with specific restrictions,” market manager Rob Pingle said in announcing the farmers market opening last week. “They are a place to access food, not for groups to gather. The society and the CRD want to provide residents of Salt Spring safe access to local food until regular markets can start again.”

Pingle spent time sourcing hand sanitizer stations and rope to mark off spacing. Customers will be encouraged to come ready to pick up specific products rather than browsing or lingering.

The society is also launching an online food hub to provide Salt Spring residents with the ability to order local food products online. It can be found at www.localline.ca/salt-spring-community-market.

In other news around building island food security, the Salt Spring Agricultural Alliance has set up a multi-stakeholder working group that is helping to establish alternative ways for farmers to reach island customers, including easy online ordering and payment. The working group is a key partner in the Salt Spring Business and Farm Emergency Response and Recovery Task Force, which islanders will be hearing more about in the weeks ahead.   

• Salt Spring’s community abattoir wants people to know it is still in business, and is adapting to new COVID-19 regulations in order to provide an essential service for farmers and an ongoing supply of locally raised meat. Physical distancing for staff, and self-isolation if indicated, are the new norms.

Cash flow for the Salt Spring Abattoir Society is always challenging early in the season and more so this year. New COVID-19 related protocols reduce the number of staff that can be on site at one time, which reduces the number of animals that can be processed on any day.

Transition Salt Spring Enterprise Co-op has stepped in to help, providing an operating loan to help with cash flow.

• People who want to get more involved in raising their own meat and eggs can find a resource in the Salt Spring Poultry Club. In order to reach more people quickly, the annual membership fee has been waived for the remainder of 2020.

For free membership, contact the club through the website saltspringpoultry.com, the public Salt Spring Poultry Club Facebook page or the Google discussion group.

“This year more poultry is being hatched locally than ever before and we can connect you with sources of day-old or started birds, or in some cases breeding groups of adult birds,” said Margaret Thomson. “Whatever your reason for keeping poultry we are available to help, especially if you are a beginner.”

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