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Salisbury Farmers Market to open at new home after COVID-19 delay

By Liz Moomey

liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — James Meacham, chief executive officer of the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority, had a vision for April 18, the planned first day of the farmers market at the Railwalk Pavilion.

Then COVID-19 hit Rowan County, and the market’s board decided to postpone the opening.

Now the market will look different. Vendors will be spaced out starting Saturday, products will be behind the owners and social distancing will be encouraged. Some vendors will have hand sanitizer available for their use and for customers.

 The first day of the market at its new home, at 223 E. Kerr St., was originally planned as a celebration.

“It’s not the original grand opening that we envisioned,” Meacham said. “We’ll celebrate that one day, but we recognize that it’s important that we get fresh food in a healthy and safe way out to folks.”

Farmers market are considered essential and the Salisbury Farmers Market could have opened on time. But farmers made a good decision, Meacham said.

“It was an evolving situation. We, as a community, as a state, know a lot more about COVID-19 in May than we did in early April,” he said. “We’ve learned more about best practices. We’ve learned more about who is at a higher risk. We’ve learned about implementing social distancing and some good measures to put into place.”

Other non-essential businesses can begin to open today.

Mike Miller, owner of Miller Farms, said he was OK with the delay.

“Everyone is going to feel safe at the market,” he said.

Miller added the last thing he would want is someone to get sick after attending the Salisbury Farmers Market.

Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are big for the farmers at the market.

Miller will be bringing strawberries, lettuce, spring onion and plants to sell. The items will be behind him and customers will not get the option to pick up produce.

He said he has made it mandatory for farmers to practice cleanliness while harvesting and at the market will be bringing hand sanitizer and following other guidelines. 

Chase Reynolds, owner of Two Pigs Farm, will be bringing hand sanitizer and wearing a mask. He won’t allow customers to handle the food and will encourage social distancing.

Two Pigs Farm will be selling meat and produce Saturday. They also do pre-orders, which Reynolds said they prefer. They have seen an increase in demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I’ve always provided the community with an oversupply,” Reynolds said. “It’s nice to be wanted for once.”

Like the others, Kristine Purco, the owner of How Sweet Is It, will be wearing masks and gloves, bring sanitizing lotion and putting products behind her. Her husband will also deal with the money while she handles the products.

She said she feels like the farmers have implemented measures to ensure there is enough space between vendors and control how many people are at the market.

She is bringing frosted Mother’s Day cookies, pound cake, breads, cinnamon buns, muffins and rolls to sell.

It is Purco’s 26th year selling at the farmers market. But this year is like no other.

Purco is excited about the new home. She said older customers were deterred from the previous location at 520 S. Main St. because it wasn’t covered during rainy days. The new home also has no potholes and plenty of parking.

Miller said he hopes the Salisbury Farmers Market is there to stay at the Railwalk Pavilion.

Meacham said the market is a great opportunity, especially for the senior population to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and is possibly safer than going to a grocery store since it is outside.

The market will be open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Kerr Street from North Lee Street to Depot Street will be closed for the market. Sandwich boards will be set up to show customers where to park.

As owner of the pavilion, the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority will be monitoring social distancing, Meacham said.

As state restrictions evolve and change, he said the market would evolve with them.

Restrooms will not be available for public use.

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