COVID doesn’t hamper market
By Sharon Kelly | CNA Media Team | Woodlawn Farmers Market Manager
“I’m so glad the market is open this year.”
“I couldn’t wait to come to the market!”
Those were among comments heard when neighbors entered the 2020 Woodlawn Farmers Market (WFM) during the June 6 kick off.
By the opening bell, a light-but-steady stream of respectful shoppers was flowing through the newly-marked entrance at Durham Avenue and Dekum Street.
Shoppers kept their distances carefully and wore masks of various shades and styles. They were greeted by volunteer board members, directed to the hand-washing station and filtered through to well-spaced booths to meet smiling new and familiar vendors.
“There’s no better time for a farmers market than right now,” said WFM board member Erin Cooper. The board is made up of eight dedicated, market-loving Woodlawn neighbors. They attended weekly Zoom meetings to make sure the market was ready to meet COVID-19 requirements specific to Oregon’s farmers markets.
“When we think about our community’s resilience to disruptions like COVID, having a strong local food network is a really important piece of that,” said Avery Lewis, WFM co-founder and current board chair.
“Open-air markets are one of the safest places to shop if you’re following COVID precautions.” she added. These precautions include:
- Limiting entrances and exits
- Ensuring social distancing for customers and vendors
- Providing hand-washing
- Requiring masks
- Eliminating – for now –live music, seating, onsite food consumption and the Community Table
“But these things will come back,” Erin assured. For updates visit: WoodlawnFarmersMarket.org.
The market is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through October. It was founded with the goal to increase accessibility to fresh, local foods for all residents. Those include lower-income individuals and families in Woodlawn, Concordia and Piedmont neighborhoods.
“The SNAP Match is a key part of us being here for our community,” Erin said. With support from Farmers Market Fund, Double Up Food Bucks and local sponsors, WFM is able to provide a $15 SNAP Match this season. There are also multiple WFM farmer/vendors who accept Farm Direct Nutrition Program vouchers.
Also core to the market mission is to create community connection and provide support for a diverse group of neighbors, local growers, producers, small businesses and musicians.
“We are a community- and place-making space for the neighborhood and our vendors are a reflection and representation of our neighbors,” Erin reported.
Avery agreed. “Our market also tends to be an incubator for new farms or small businesses that use our market as a launch pad, and that’s something I’m proud of.”
WFM was born in 2015 when a couple of neighbors thought it would be great to have a farmers market in Woodlawn and within walking distance of two other adjoining neighborhoods.
“We saw that Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN) had a small community-building grant for $2,000, so we applied, got the grant, and then we had to figure out what we were doing,” Avery recalled.
“We recruited a bunch of neighbors to help us, and that was the beginning of the market.”
The partnership with the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association (WNA) began with gaining the NECN grant. WNA continues as a supportive partner and fiscal sponsor organization for the market.
The market generally hosts 20 to 25 vendors each season, some weekly, others with varying schedules. It tends to average about 10 to 15 vendors per week. This season WFM is working in partnership with Black Food Sovereignty Coalition and will host BIPOC farmers through its Introducing Farmers Program.
Visit WoodlawnFarmersMarket.org to sign up for the weekly Fresh List e-newsletter for information on vendors – and other activities – scheduled each week, or to view updated COVID-19 market policies.
Information is also available at Facebook.com/WoodlawnNeighborhoodFarmersMarket and
Sharon Kelly uses her outreach and coordination skills to support trees, farmers, small businesses, and engage people to create more healthy, equitable, sustainable communities. She’s best known locally as market manager for Cully and Woodlawn farmers markets and as web manager for Trees for Life Oregon. Contact her at NaturalFarmerPDX@gmail.com