By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is kicking off its summer season this weekend with many changes, as the region continues to adapt to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The market hours will shift to 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. The market also will not be returning to High Rock Park this summer. It will continue to operate outdoors at the Wilton Mall.
High Rock Park is not available this year because of ongoing construction and potential road closures. In addition, social distancing protocols would not be able to be maintained in and around the market pavilions.
“The mall’s management has been extremely supportive of us,” says Saratoga Farmers’ Market Board president Beth Trattel. “Their flexibility has helped us keep the market going.”
The market had been operating in the mall’s food court area before the pandemic. It closed for one week in mid-March, and then reopened outdoors in the parking area between the former Bon Ton and B.J.’s Wholesale Club six weeks ahead of schedule.
The market has been following strict social distancing requirements. Vendors are spaced several feet apart and keep gloves, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer on their tables. Face coverings must be worn. Customers are asked to remain six feet apart from vendors and each other, not handle produce, and to leave their dogs at home. No music or other entertainment will be offered at this time. Only food and hand sanitizer produced by local distilleries has been available for purchase.
These restrictions are expected to remain in place through the summer, says market administrator Emily Meagher. Meagher anticipates 65 vendors will participate in the Saturday market at the season’s peak, and 20 on Wednesdays. The market also has established a drive-up curbside service for pickups of preordered items.
Meagher adds that while the pandemic conditions have made the market less sociable than it usually is, vendors are receiving a lot of customer love.
“Our aim is to continue to provide our community with fresh and safe local food,” Meagher says. “We are less festive, but with farmers markets deemed an essential service in New York, we are celebrated now more than ever.”