Chestertown’s Farmers Market will reopen Saturday at Wilmer Park with a baker’s dozen of food vendors.
After much discussion, the town council voted 4-1 Monday to adopt a plan to move the farmers market to Wilmer Park and to restrict vendors to only those selling fresh produce and food products.
The town had shut down the farmers market at its March 16 meeting; a day later, town officials learned that Gov. Larry Hogan had designated farmers markets as essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan calls for 13 vendors to set up in the parking lot at Wilmer Park. Vendors would be spaced out within the parking lot to maintain a safe distance.
Shoppers would park their vehicles along Quaker Neck Road (state Route 289) or in the Stepne Station parking lot and walk to the entrance of the park’s lot, where hand sanitizer will be provided.
Patrons would proceed in a counter-clockwise direction among the vendors in the parking lot while maintaining a 6-f00t distance with other shoppers.
Customers who walk to the farmers market and enter from the south side of the parking lot would proceed through the parking lot, shopping or going past any vendors in an overflow area, before entering the market from the north.
Councilman Tom Herz worked with Farmers Market Manager Julie King to develop the plan and provided the following diagram.
King said the vendors included those involved in the winter market.
Artisans and crafters who typically participate in the farmers market will not be permitted at this time under the governor’s executive order closing essential businesses.
Letters to Editor
Gren Whitman says
Wbo voted against re-opening the market? And why?
Kay Pinder says
Thank you to the town council for reopening the market. Had hoped the man selling tomatoes would be included. lease invite him.
Vic Pfeiffer says
Thank you Town Council. Now people, let’s follow the rules and self-regulate – stay 6′ apart, and wear face masks & gloves. Question? Will transactions be only with credit card or will cash be allowed?
Deirdre LaMotte says
I would require everyone to be wearing masks.
Carol Mylander says
I think opening the farmer’s market is too risky. Exchanging money is difficult, handing vegetables after purchase. If we are
comparing this to grocery stores, don’t go to grocery stores either. We are all in this together, let’s take
care of each other.
Carla Massoni says
This is just irresponsible.
Stefanie Blyman says
Instead of Wilmer Park, why not do a drive by service at Worton Park? Vendors could spread out more around the main loop. Customers could enter the park in their cars and drive around to each vendor in an orderly manner. No passing or cutting in line. Once one car has passed the first vendor, another one could follow behind. Vendors would wear gloves and masks, driver should also. Vendor will need two+ people at each stand. One person deals with the money and other person deals with the food so no cross contamination. Items are handed in through back seat window. No one is to get out of their car for any reason.
This might need some tweaking but could work with volunteers directing traffic. I personally think Chestertown council members and Ms King should be there.
Chris Cerino says
This is an excellent idea and one worth exploring.
Gary Long says
Wow, there is no reason to make this move! For a community that views itself as educated, this decision is naive. Note Dr, Birx words on 4/4 “the next two weeks are extraordinarily important… This is the moment to not go to the grocery store, not go to the pharmacy…”. Certainly not open the farmer’s market! Chestertown leaders, how irresponsible and ignorant.
Virginia Kerr says
This is moving far too quickly. Without giving consideration as to how to manage maintaining appropriate distances; recommending that people wear face masks, Kent County Commissioners are putting residents at risk. Chestertown isn’t a hot spot but neither are we interested in becoming one. Consider the fact that Chestertown has become a retirement community, essentially meaning the residents here are among the ‘higher risk’ sector of our population.
Mary Grace Brosius says
No Kreider tomatoes?
Connie Gsell says
This is going to be good thing for the vendors and the public, everyone enjoys fresh food and it helps the vendors who rely on the Market for income. The park is a good idea to so glad the town changed their mind.
Jennifer Friedman says
I think this is a huge mistake and a recipe for disaster.
Ruth Vietri-Green says
Respectfully, I also see this decision as irresponsible and premature. In my opinion it would create the dangerous sense that we are relaxing social distancing restrictions. In fact we should be maintaining them – this is not the time to “take our foot off the brake”! The article doesn’t even address the wearing of face masks. Town and County officials should be adhering to all government directives re: public health and safety!
Rani Gutting says
This can’t wait one more month? I’m confused by this decision.
Beth Ostrander says
Thank you to the Town Council & market management for thoughtfully redesigning this essential service. I hope the Town Council will continue to tighten the safety requirements to minimize covid-19 spread. Covid is here right now mixing in our community. When I need food, I will wear a mask & gloves to buy it, but I am lucky enough to have an N-95 mask left over from my father’s wood shop. No matter what, people need to eat. That said, buying fresh produce anywhere is a risk because of the handling required, but local produce by nature will have fewer touch points than produce delivered from Florida or California.
The open air nature of the farmer’s market is also better than the indoor space of a grocery chain considering aerosolized virus concerns from breathing and talking. No matter where you shop, people must respect the 6’ apart rule to slow the spread. Then you still have to remember not to touch your face until after your produce & hands are washed. I for one am cooking ALL of my produce now. No more salads for me until this is over. My precautions are not only for myself and my husband but for my 80+ year old Mom and all my Chestertown neighbors. We can get through this together if everyone takes this seriously.
Steven Mitchell says
Wow, the Chestertown town council and mayor are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I applaud their decision to reopen the farmer’s market with modifications to ensure the maintenance of social distancing. Governor Hogan and the state of Maryland have decreed that farmer’s markets should continue because they represent no more of a risk to the population than going to a grocery store and we all need to eat. In my opinion, farmer’s markets are less risky because they are outside with more air movement and less people have handled the produce. They also help the vendors to stay afloat during these turbulent economic times.
To those who think this is a bad idea, then don’t go to the farmer’s market. Stay home and get food delivered. Plus if you stay at home instead of going to the farmer’s market, there is more of a likelihood that I will get some of Carl’s bread. Yum.
jacqui caine says
Let’s just throw away the last two weeks of self-isolation! This complacent attitude is extremely short-sighted. But then again Chestertown chooses to ignore the safety guidelines all over town. Good luck vendors; you’ll need it.
Ron Jordan says
Some say the town council is damned if the do and damned if the don’t. Why would Gov. Hogan isolate the entire state so our tiny community that at current levels is below our neighboring counties, Queen Anne and Ceil County in cases we are doing so good, in fact we are doing great! It makes no sense. It’s more like DAM, stop being so wishy washy. Let us all continue in our containment and keeping our neighbors safe. Want to get out, walk in your backyard, run in place in your backyard. The virus is a airborne disease, so why bring folks together to spread it, to make some coins? Go on line, get a website, no one should put themselves in jeopardy. We need our farmers to be healthy so when the all clear is issued we can have a farmer’s market without worrying about viruses and pandemics. Common sense and intelligence is why we all moved here, safe and smart living, let’s stay that way, ya hear?
Loretta Gannon says
Did you not hear the announcement that Queen Anne’s County is one of the hotspots for Maryland and is expected to have very high COVID-19 rates in the next couple weeks? Why in the world would you open the farmers market now at least wait a couple weeks. Very bad decision. The market has been closed for over a month and some of those businesses have found other ways to market there goods, like curbside delivery. This decision scares me.
Robin Wood says
As other commenters have said, reopening the farmer’s market now is just too risky. Concentrating vendors and buyers in one spot during one 4-hour window each week doesn’t make sense from a public health standpoint. Why not instead create a website–a virtual farmer’s market–that would guide people to the sources of the produce?
Melinda Bookwalter says
Shortsighted, selfish and premature.
Just because other countries and parts of the US appear to be reaching an apex (deaths are going up, hospitalizations appear to be going down), we in MD and on the Eastern Shore are NOT reaching an apex, we are rapidly going up in numbers. Stay home/save lives is working, and this is not the time to stop. As someone else pointed out these next two weeks are paramount to seeing just where we are headed. Then re visit the question.
And ask yourself this question: are we going to “mingle” as someone else said ’cause we’ve been cooped up too long? We as humans can creatively come up with all sorts of workarounds to get what “we” want. But what about for the good of all, not just for us that “wants”?
But, at the very least please consider:
Only one person per family comes to shop (like recommended for grocery stores) Or co-op, one shopping for many.
Mask required (ditto above).
No dogs or kids (haven’t seen many of either at grocery stores).
One handles the money, one handles the produce.
Drone photography to see how folks are behaving.
Hopefully there won’t be a spike in cases in the next 3 weeks.
I’ll miss the friendly interactions and keep on making bread (making Carl’s an even bigger treat later!)
Kelley McIntire says
Community Spread is the watchword. Anything that might, even inadvertently, advance that community spread should be discouraged. That, sadly, includes the Farmers Market.
Krista Lamoreaux says
Thank you to the Mayor & Town Council for re-opening this essential service!! Local food resilience and the access to local food is absolutely essential in this new & different world in which we live. I would much prefer (for safety and personal reasons) to purchase my food at the Ctown Farmers Market.
I know the Town and Julie King have invested a lot of time in ensuring all the necessary safety precautions are in place (spacing, masks, gloves, etc.).
I am grateful to be able spend my money to support local farmers who are creating local food resilience. We are blessed.
Ruth Vietri-Green says
Respectfully asking – can someone double-check that farmer’s markets are still considered essential businesses as of today?