Farmers market

A modified Ellensburg Farmer Market opens on Saturday.

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The weather is expected to be sunny, around 70 degrees on Saturday. But more importantly, the Ellensburg Farmers Market in downtown will be open for business.

To say it will be business as usual would be a stretch, though, as what is traditionally a social gathering in Ellensburg will not have that element under COVID-19 restrictions. Things will be different this year, market manager Colin Lamb said, but there will be an estimated 25 booths and a variety of products available, including asparagus, frozen blueberries, plant starts, radishes and rhubarb.

“I imagine we will be social distancing for quite a while, so this is the plan for now,” Lamb said. “People can enter the market from any direction, but we have set up cones up and down Fourth Street and some of the side entrances to keep traffic to the right, directing foot traffic such as at a buffet.

“All of the vendors and booths will be 10 feet apart. We moved around some of the vendors that tend to draw a lot of people to avoid any long lines. We’re asking that people come with a list, so they can come and shop and leave.”

Said Ellensburg Mayor Bruce Tabb, “The market has a plan based on farmers markets that have successfully opened across the state in a much denser populations than we have,” he said. “They’ve taken the steps through the market and through the health department to try and assure people will be as safe and healthy as possible.

“I’m hopeful that it will be successful. I think that people that generally go to the market are the type that will follow the guidelines to make it work.”

Washington state farmers markets are considered essential services and permitted to operate during the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Farmers markets across the state are opening while implementing social distancing standards to maintain a safe and healthy environment for customers and vendors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The Washington State Department of Health has launched the “SNAP Market Match” program at more than 100 participating farmers markets.

Shoppers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) EBT benefits at a growing list of participating farmers markets can get additional “match” up to $10 to buy more fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and plant starts.

The SNAP Market Match builds on similar programs that operated at the county or regional level. The launch of the statewide SNAP Market Match program streamlines local programs under one shared brand, allowing more shoppers to double their SNAP spending power. This expansion provides SNAP shoppers more flexibility and variety in their shopping experience.

The SNAP Market Match can help stretch limited food budgets, according to Lacy Fehrenbach, assistant secretary, DOH Division of Prevention and Community Health.

“Income should not determine whether individuals and families can get fresh fruits and vegetables, and unfortunately that is all too often the case,” she said. “By boosting the purchasing power of SNAP shoppers, the SNAP Market Match program will put more healthy food on the table for families across Washington State and keep money circulating to small and medium farmers.”

The program intends to increase the use of federal food assistance benefits at farmers markets by strengthening relationships among market managers and community partners.

“Food access programs at farmers markets such as SNAP and the SNAP Market Match are incredibly important to the entire farmers market community — organizers, vendors, and shoppers of every income,” said Colleen Donovan, Executive Director, WSFMA.

“Such programs represent values we care deeply about: equity in our local food system, supporting local farms and food entrepreneurs, healthy families, and vibrant community spaces. Farmers markets are proud to be strategic partners with the Department of Health in ensuring SNAP and SNAP Market Match reach every corner of the state.”

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