Yes! The Farmers Market is opening
(And no – you probably shouldn't hang out there all day or touch everything)

Yes! The Farmers Market is opening

Shoppers peruse the veggies at a past Durango Farmers Market. Much to the relief of fresh produce-starved locals, the market will be opening this week. But, possibly to the dismay of interaction-starved locals, shoppers are not encouraged to turn it into a social event – at least not for now./File photo

Missy Votel - 05/07/2020

It may be hard to imagine, but while us humans are shuttered away in our houses, or hiding behind facemasks and Zoom meetings, the natural world is going on without us.

“Plants are popping, birds are singing and baby animals are being born on farms,” Durango Farmers Market Manager Melanie McKinney-Gonzales said Tuesday. “Spring is happening.”

And so is the Durango Farmers Market, which will be entering its 24th season starting Sat., May 9.

“Farmers have been growing crops and are ready to feed our community,” said McKinney-Gonzales, adding that so far, it’s been a good start to the growing season. “I’ve been seeing pictures of strawberry blossoms and huge heads of lettuce, things are looking good. We got it going on.”

She said there will be about 25 vendors for the first market, but she expects the number of stalls to ramp up to about 40 by the end of the month. But one thing she cautions about ramping up is the neighborly socializing and leisurely lollygagging that’s long been a hallmark of the market – at least for now. Like every other facet of our daily Durango lives, the market will be back, but with measures reflecting the new reality of a re-emerging society.

“The message we really are trying to send is that the Farmers Market is not a community gathering this year, but more of an outdoor, open-air grocery store,” said McKinney-Gonzales. “The first market will be really spread out. Hopefully that will help people feel safer knowing it’s not going to be crowded on the first day.”

To that end, all vendors will be wearing masks for the month of May (and possibly beyond), and shoppers are asked to please not squeeze the broccoli and let the farmers handle the produce. In addition, the northern entrances (on 9th Street) to the market will be roped off and folks are asked to enter on the 8th Street side, by the Transit Center. There will be three entrances here, each equipped with  hand-washing/sanitizing stations and facemasks for those who forgot theirs or decide they need one.

“Were not requiring people to wear facemasks, but we are encouraging and suggesting it,” said McKinney-Gonzales.

Also, if things start to get too rowdy, market volunteers will regulate how many people can enter at a time. And to help with the temptation to dilly-dally, the market will not be offering live music as has been the custom in the past, and prepared food will be available to-go only.

“We ask for the community’s participation to keep our venue a safe place by not gathering, lingering or socializing at the market for the time being,” she said. “We are all in this together and want to do our best to serve you in a healthy way.”

But this doesn’t mean no fun will be allowed whatsoever. For this Saturday’s market, in honor of Mother’s Day, the first 50 moms to swing by the market info booth will get a free tomato plant or flower start.

McKinney-Gonzales said she hopes later in the summer the market will also be offering soaps, tinctures, salves and natural cleaning supplies. But for now, she said the plan calls for just keeping things rooted, if you will.

“Our plan is to go nice and slow and keep it to food and keep our feet under us,” she said.

For more info. on the Durango Farmers Market go to: www.durangofarmersmarket.com or check them out on Facebook