Sonoma’s Tuesday Night Market (STNM) will not open its 2020 season on the Sonoma Plaza as originally scheduled. To comply with state and county prohibitions against mass gatherings in the public health orders due to the COVID-19 emergency, the STNM will be temporarily replaced with a weekly Farmer and Agricultural – Only Tuesday Market beginning on May 5th, 2020, from 3:00-6:00 PM, in the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall parking lot. The Market will be held in the large parking lot behind the Little League Fields on First Street East and parking will be in the Veterans Memorial Hall parking lot at 126 First Street West.
With the need for increased access to produce and agricultural commodities, the City is launching a “Farmer and Agricultural Only” Market as an essential service to increase food opportunities for the community. “When it is safe to do so, we will bring back the fun elements that people love,” Mayor Logan Harvey said. “But for now, we want to offer this two-fold essential service: giving the agricultural community a way to sell their products now that many of their other sales outlets are reduced and providing the community another food source.”
When the Tuesday Market opens on May 5, there will be numerous operating policies to ensure public health and safety during this COVID-19 emergency. “Food security and access have been a focus of the City’s emergency response along with the Food Security Task Force and many community partners,” City Manager Cathy Capriola said, “and we know that farmers markets are an important means of getting fresh healthy food into the hands of our citizens and a way to support our local agricultural economy.” The City will try this new Farmer and Agricultural product only market model and will re-evaluate it in 60 days based on the community support of the market.
The new, modified Tuesday Market is designed to safeguard the public health. Market Manager Christopher Welch will be over-seeing the modified Tuesday Market, including new hygiene and safety measures. “Part of my job has always been to ensure compliance with health and safety standards,” Welch stated, “but this season, we’ll be taking it to a whole new level.” Public health precautions to be taken while operating the Market include:
- Hand washing and sanitizing stations at entrances and exits, and other locations within the market;
- Produce that will be selected and bagged by the farmer vendors only, and special queuing lines with 6-foot demarcations;
- Modified layouts to ensure 10 feet or more between vendor booths to allow for greater circulation and distance;
- Limited market entrances to control capacity and foot traffic;
- No sampling or prepared food until further notice;
- No touching of the products, and the Farmers will assist patrons; and
- No music, entertainment, or public seating areas.
The City will post updated information about the new market attendance protocols in advance of the Market opening. “We know that these modifications will take some getting used to,” says Lisa Janson, Special Events Manager for the City. “We’re grateful to everyone making adjustments to their Tuesday Market shopping to fight this virus and protect others.” The City suggests that shoppers make a list before going to the market; designate one shopper per household; bring reusable bags, but be aware that they will be the only one touching them, and stay home if you are sick or if you’ve been in contact with someone who is sick. Shoppers are also asked to shop “quickly and efficiently.” In order to minimize impacts to neighbors, visitors to the Market are asked to park in the Veteran’s Memorial Hall parking lot via the entrance off of First Street West and not to park on First Street East.
Market managers expect to be offering CalFresh EBT benefits and matching, as has been done in the past. “With the new market management by the City, we have had to reapply for EBT and WIC as completely new entities,” Welch explained. “We are hoping that, despite the situation and uncertainty with the governmental entities involved, we will have approval to offer these important benefits by the time the market opens.” Because the market plans are subject to change and evolve, they urged community members to consult the Market’s website or local media sources for more current information as the May 5th opening day draws near.
For 2020, the City of Sonoma is managing the traditional Sonoma’s Tuesday Night Market (STNM) in a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Christopher Welch as the Market Operations Manager. City staff member, Special Events Manager Lisa Janson, provides overall management with Christopher Welch as a contractor serving as the Marketing Operations Manager, a job he held for the last 8 years with Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market (VOMCFM).
For more information visit the STNM website at www.SonomasTuesdayNightMarket.com, or you can reach the Market Operations Manager at 707-694-3611.