Newton Farmers’ Market reopened June 20 with new guidelines and a new location.
To meet state guidelines, organizers said they moved the market from its previous homes at Elm Street and Cold Spring Park to a parking lot in front of Newton South High School, which enabled the market to have space for social distancing, single entry and exit points and curbside pickup.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, who visited the market, said in an interview that she was thrilled the city could provide help to residents and support to farmers and retailers, and “do it all outside and safely.”
“It’s been a very challenging, and busy, and complicated three months, and it still is, but Newton is doing well and we will get through this.”
According to Judy Dore, market manager, 412 people entered the Newton farmers’ market on the reopening day, and she hopes to double attendance to their larger market on June 30.
“A lot of the markets aren’t opening this year across the state because they’re run by volunteers, and we just seem to have the backing of the city,” Dore said.
Dore has been involved in the market since 1980, and said moving the farmers’ market can make it hard to reestablish customers, but Newton South is a good spot.
Vendors also followed new safety guidelines.
Taylor Jordan of Jordan Bros. Seafood said she felt “very safe” at the market.
“I don’t really have any cross handling other than cash — everybody wears a mask and pretty much stays apart,” she said.
Blue arrows and pink signs on the ground and in front of each vendor’s stand guided customers to travel in the same direction and wait in lines while keeping a safe distance from one another.
Lauren Berman, who runs ALL Over Newton and does marketing for the city, said residents are seeking local produce. She said her website has received thousands of hits in the past eight weeks from people looking for food from local farmers.
While delivery has become available for local produce, Berman said the market provides a destination for people who want to get out of their house safely as well as the opportunity to choose their own produce.
“There’s still going to be people who, even though they can’t touch the fruits and vegetables, they may want to see it,” Berman said.
Maryna Shevchenko and Denys Glushkov stopped at the market with their daughter to shop for strawberries and tomatoes.
“We try to do our best to find local food,” Shevchenko said.
Stephanie Lesiczka, who was working at Wally’s Vegetables on the reopening day and has been coming to the market for 41 years, said she didn’t know what to expect.
“It’s always difficult between not only COVID, a change of location, the heat,” she said. “Heat usually has a pretty big effect too.”
The temperature reached 91 degrees on Saturday morning.
“But I think I did pretty well...I was satisfied,” Lesiczka said as the market was closing. “I can’t really say anything didn’t sell.”
Hot weather also can be challenging for volunteers. Nicola Hensch, a student at Newton South High school, volunteered at the reopening and said they rotated between jobs so they didn’t have to stay out in the sun all day.
“I think it’s really important to just help out local farmers,” said Hensch.
About two dozen volunteers at the market distributed flyers explaining the social-distancing rules, sanitized customers’ hands, operated curbside pickup, helped at vendors’ tables, and recorded the number of people entering and exiting the market so that the site had enough space for social distancing.
Eva Shimkus, a volunteer from the Newton South High School who is new to the area, said she felt a strong sense of community through volunteering at the Newton farmers’ market.
At other markets, Dore said she only used one or two volunteers, and she was surprised when 50 people offered to help this summer. Those volunteers will also work at the Tuesday market.
The June 30 farmers’ market will also take place at Newton South High School from 2 to 6 p.m.
Xingtong Liu and Rhian Lowndes can be reached at email@example.com.