Though the county has lost many events this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CalaverasGROWN Certified Farmers’ Markets will take place as usual this summer.
“It’s an important economic event for the farmers, but also it’s a sign of community strength that we can kind of soldier on and make sure that the markets continue, and give people this opportunity to celebrate their community and shop locally,” said Odile Morrison, CalaverasGROWN secretary and San Andreas market manager.
CalaverasGROWN is a volunteer-run, countywide cooperative marketing program which works to help local agricultural producers market their products. The organization aims at creating a more sustainable economy and community in Calaveras County.
The Murphys Farmers’ Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday from June 14 to Oct. 25 in Murphys Community Park, while the San Andreas Farmers’ Market will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Thursday from June 18 to Oct. 29 at the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden by the government center.
“Social distancing will be in place, and we’ve adjusted the market layout accordingly so that we don’t have any gathering at the markets,” Morrison said. “We’ve also had to very sadly not offer live music right now.”
The farmers’ markets offer a wide variety of products from county farmers and artisans.
“Local produce is closer to the source, so it is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than produce that has traveled further to reach your plate,” CalaverasGROWN President Sean Kriletich said in a press release. “Dollars spent at the market are an important source of income for local farmers and tend to recirculate locally.”
Both farmers’ markets will accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT).
“Both markets accept EBT and offer Market Match, which doubles shoppers’ EBT nutrition benefits, enabling them to purchase even more healthy fruits and vegetables,” the press release states. “So, if a customer spends $10 of their allotted benefit, they are given an extra $10 in market tokens to spend on fruits and vegetables. This includes Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits being issued in response to the current health crisis.”
California Market Match is new to the farmers’ markets this year and was made possible through a grant from the Ecology Center in Berkeley.
“We’re really trying to get people to use EBT benefits,” Morrison said. “We have a very good chance of keeping Market Match going year after year if we use the funds.”
The farmers’ markets also accept Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) checks and WIC and Seniors FMNP (Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program) fruit and vegetable checks.
“CalaverasGROWN is happy to offer these incentives to those in our community who most need access to fresh, nutritious, healthy foods,” Morrison said in the press release. “This also infuses our local economy with revenue it would not usually capture. In fact, every penny spent by shoppers at our farmers’ markets goes directly to local producers, your Calaveras neighbors, helping their bottom line, strengthening the local economy, and ensuring we all continue to have access to locally-grown food.”
In addition to the farmers’ markets, CalaverasGROWN has also organized mobile markets, which will be set up on Thursdays in Murphys, Angels Camp, San Andreas and Valley Springs. CalaverasGROWN volunteers will deliver produce and other items to drop-off locations, and locals will be able to make purchases online and pick up their goods once a week. The first mobile markets will take place on Thursday.
“A lot of people prefer shopping online and not going to stores at the moment, and we wanted to give people the opportunity to do that from local farmers,” Morrison said. “It’s something that we’ve been considering doing, but now seemed the right time to start. From now on we are looking at offering it as a year-round service.”
While the farmers’ markets are generally social events, for now the focus will be on shopping.
“Usually it’s a community event that has a social element, and we encourage people to linger,” Morrison said. “But this year lingering is not on the table. We hope that we get to that point before October, and we’ll adjust as we go through public health guidelines.”
For more information, visit calaverasgrown.org.