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Farmers market running smooth after reopening

Pahrump’s Saturday Farmers Market at Tractor Supply, hosted by Pahrump Master Gardener volunteers, has been thriving after the reopening.

Due to the reopening, there has been an increase in the number of questions answered at the information booth. There is also an increase in participation in Extension classes, which are now on Zoom.

There are many new produce vendors that participate in this event. There really isn’t a definite number of vendors as many people base it on the weather. For example, last week, Pahrump had very sunny weather, and there were about 24 booths and about 294 total visitor walk-throughs.

Like many other businesses, COVID-19 put a stop to and made things much more difficult. According to Heather Freeman, Master Gardener coordinator, “One challenge has been spacing. Due to CDC and USDA guidelines for safe farmers’ market operations, booths are currently 10 feet apart, to allow for social distancing. At first, that meant prioritizing which vendors were invited to participate in the COVID-safe restart.”

At first, due to the spacing, when the Farmers Market opened back up, it was only essential foods like eggs, honey, fresh produce, masks and soaps, and cottage and craft foods. As restrictions started to be lifted, the arts and crafts vendors returned. Every week they talk to the vendors make sure that no one is feeling sick. “If you feel sick, please stay at home,” stated Heather Freeman.

After the state imposed a shutdown that was going to last longer than three weeks, the Nevada Department of Agriculture hosted a Western Regional phone conference. During this phone call it was made clear that the markets were an essential retail food source equal to other food markets. They all followed the guidelines provided by the CDC website: “Requiring masks, spacing apart booths, social distancing, use of pre-packaging or pre-portioning, not allowing customers to handle things prior to purchase, no open sampling, frequent hand sanitization and use of gloves when possible, contactless payment when possible.”

Due to these guidelines, Tractor Supply Co. has given permission to expand the farmers market along the back side of the building on 5th Street. Right now it isn’t necessary, but as more vendors apply, it will be needed. Every volunteer is required to watch a COVID-safety training video, and a market-safe operations slideshow which is emailed to every new vendor.

When shutting down a business for a few weeks, there is much money loss, and more money being spent when it comes to taking precautions. During the initial shutdown, there was loss of revenue for 11 weeks, as well as the four-week pause in winter of 2020. Because of COVID, more money is being spent on hand sanitizer, masks, face-shields, gloves, individual packaging, and additional signage.

The Farmers Market will be open every Saturday morning, as the weather permits, at the invitation of Tractor Supply Company. Summer hours will begin on May 1, selling from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. to keep the produce safe from the heat.

For more, email the Farmers Market at pahrumpfarmersmarket@gmail.com or visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/paulrevere2007

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