The Burnaby Farmers’ Market is cancelled this Saturday due to concerns about COVID-19, according to Bernie Glemas, chair of the Artisan Farmers’ Market Society’s board of directors.
The society runs the Burnaby Farmers’ Market as well as others in the region.
The decision came from the city’s director of planning and building, according to Glemas.
The director, Ed Kozak, did not respond to the NOW before press time to confirm that.
“The safety of everybody is always a prime concern,” Glemas said. “We are skipping this week, possibly next week, and then regrouping.”
The B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets is holding a conference call next week about the possibilities going forward, he said.
In Nova Scotia, Farmers' Markets of Nova Scotia has asked markets to shut down their physical locations but is helping them move to an online model, Glemas pointed out.
“There are possibilities of online ordering,” he said.
The main two issues are ensuring the food supply chain is not limited and ensuring their members can still make a living, according to Glemas.
“Farmers and vendors rely on the markets for part of their income,” he said.
As for the supply chain, providing food is an essential service, he pointed out, adding that farmers’ markets are open-air markets, and they provide more of an opportunity for social distancing while food shopping.
Domestic food security, food production and local farmers are of high importance at times like these, an online letter from the society pointed out.
The society has been following guidelines from Fraser Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the letter stated.
“In Monday’s letter from the BCCDC, they express that ‘farmers’ markets are not currently considered a high-risk setting for the transmission of COVID-19’ and I understand the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture is also supportive of farmers’ markets remaining open at this time,” the letter stated.
“Under additional conditions regarding COVID-19, farmers markets can continue to operate in B.C. at this time,” agricultural minister Lana Popham said in a statement posted on Twitter. “The Ministry of Agriculture is working directly with the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets to assist with this season and I’m pleased to share that the Ministry of Agriculture will be providing financial support for them to develop an operating model better suited to times of emergency.”
Whatever the association decides is best, the Burnaby Farmers’ Market will listen, Glemas said.
“I would encourage other farmers’ markets to take a unified approach,” he said. “The key thing is doing whatever is best for the community.”
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