Farmer's Market opens

Joanne Laabs sets up safety barriers with rope to prepare for the Huntingdon Farmers’ Market April 29 in Portstown Park. The market opens its 2021 season Thursday, May 6, and will be open in Portstown Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Huntingdon Farmers’ Market opens another season this Thursday, May 6, at Portstown Park in Huntingdon Borough. The market hours will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and masks will be required by all shoppers — including those vaccinated.

Market manager Nick Miller says that safety guidance for outdoor markets is still unclear, and they want all of their customers and vendors to be able to shop safely throughout the season.

“We’re just trying to keep people out of a close space. Hopefully as more people get vaccinated, and the CDC keeps opening things up, eventually we won’t have to do all of this stuff, but until that time, safety is our main concern for shoppers,” said Miller.

According to Miller, it’s too difficult at this stage for volunteers to assess each person’s vaccination status. The CDC issued new guidance last week on wearing masks outdoors, but the size of the crowd at the market can quickly shift from a small gathering to a large gathering. Miller says that many markets are requesting specific guidance from the CDC on how to safely operate, but says restrictions will be in place until they are advised differently.

“We’re just going to follow the science. We’re just going to listen to the experts, and as things get updated we’ll go with changes, but especially at the start we’re going to err on the side of caution,” said Miller.

Miller says that the restrictions are similar to those put in place last season. Attendance numbers were down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Miller expects shoppers to return now that vaccination numbers are rising, and virus transmission is better understood.

“I think we expect more people to come out this year. As people have been getting vaccinated they’re probably feeling more safe out in public, and having our market safety protocols in place I think people will continue to find this a safe place to go and buy local goods,” said Miller.

The market hosts a variety of local vendors selling seasonally available produce, baked goods and beverages. New to the market this year is Standing Stone Coffee Co. and Juniata Brewing Co. The pick-up option that debuted last year will be returning as well. Shoppers can order goods online to be picked up at the market.

Vendors are also able to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) benefits as well. Using SNAP or FMNP benefits will also earn a 50% credit in the market’s Bonus Bucks to be put to further purchases at the market.

Miller says that he’s excited to see the market reopen for the season.

The Huntingdon Farmers’ Market began originally in 1985, and has been selling fresh, local produce in Portstown Park since 2007. The market is open every Thursday from the first week in May until the end of October every year. According to Miller, buying from local vendors is a great way to support the local economy.

“Money spent within the community stays in the community,” said Miller.

Haldan can be reached at hkirsch@huntingdondailynews.com.

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