As East Boston slowly creeps to our “new normal’’ in the neighborhood some restaurants have been able to reopen with limited capacity or outdoor seating, retail stores that have closed are reopening and residents feel a little safer being out in public.
One sign that the worst of the pandemic is over for now and summer has arrived is the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) Let’s Get Movin Farmers Market in Central Square.
This year’s Farmers Market will kick off today, Wednesday June 1 at 3 p.m. and last through October 1. The market will be open each Wednesday until 6 p.m.
However, EBNHC and the Let’s Get Movin’ staff are making several changes to this year’s market in order to protect the health and safety of the public and farmers that will be on hand to sell their goods.
EBNHC’s Program Coordinator for Community Initiatives Nancy Slamet said the Health Center has printed new fliers for the weekly market highlighting changes that put an emphasis on health in safety.
For example the market will host special shopping hours for seniors. The designated shopping hours for those 60 plus or others at high risk for COVID-19 will be each Wednesday from 3 to 3:30 p.m.
“Your health is our top priority. The East Boston Farmers Market will continue to provide access to affordable, local and farm-fresh food during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Slamet. “The 2020 season will be different in many ways to protect shoppers, farmers, and staff. We thank you in advance for your cooperation and look forward to seeing you there.”
The Farmers Market has launched a new online ordering and delivery service to this year’s market.
Shoppers who do not feel comfortable with spending time shopping at the market can simply pay for their produce using the WhatsGood app. Beginning on July 8 online shoppers will pick up orders at the Farmers Market and customers can simply pick up their orders between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the market’s pre-order pick-up Tent on Border Street across from Marshalls in Liberty Plaza.
In August, home delivery will also be an option for those who do not feel comfortable venturing down to the market.
While COVID-19 infections continue on the downswing in Eastie and Boston Slamet said the organizers are asking residents to please stay home if they are sick and wear a mask and maintain social distance from others when you pick-up.
Slamet said when coming to the Farmers Market do not come if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. Masks or face coverings must be worn at all times. Only bring children if you have no other option but children must stay beside you. No pets are allowed at this year;s market.
There will also be designated entrances and exits to the Central Square Farmers Market
The Farmers Market now has two specific entrances. The entrance for the main market will be at the corner of Saratoga Street and Border Street. The entrance for Farmer Dave’s stand will be at the intersection of Meridian Street and Central Square. Only a limited number of shoppers will be allowed at any time inside the market and you may have to wait to enter the market.
Before shopping the EBNHC would like customers to sanitize or wash your hands at one of our hand-washing stations when you enter the market. Shoppers must follow the one-way traffic flow of the market with no backtracking. Shoppers can go through the shopper’s loop in the main market area again if they want to make another round.
Shoppers must also remain six feet away from other shoppers and vendors are not allowed to touch reusable bags.
There will also be no eating allowed inside the market.
In order to avoid personal contact the Farmers Market staff is urging shoppers to refrain from using cash whenever they can and instead pay with debit, credit cards, and apps if possible. Other acceptable forms of payment include WIC coupons, Senior coupons, SNAP/food stamps/EBT, and P-EBT.
SNAP/EBT customers receive a 100 percent incentive (a dollar-for-dollar match up to $40-$80, depending on household size) for each SNAP dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables purchased at the Farmers Market.
WIC supports farmers as well as good nutrition through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program. WIC Farmers Market coupons may be used at the East Boston Farmers Market on fresh, uncut fruits and vegetables.
Also eligible seniors can contact the senior agency that serves their town to find out when and where Senior Farmers Market Coupons will be distributed. Senior Farmers Market coupons may be used on fresh, uncut fruits and vegetables and honey.
The 2020 list of local farmers and vendors for this year’s market is;
Drunk on Jam: Boozy homemade jams; East Boston, MA (weekly)
Farmer Dave’s: Produce, bakery products, beans, preserves/sauces; Dracut, MA (weekly)
Hillside Harvest: Artisanal hot sauces; Boston, MA (1-2x per month)
Meadowbrook Orchards: Fruit, baked goods, eggs, honey, boxed meals, and smoked meats. Sterling, MA (weekly)
North of Boston Farm: Produce, meat, eggs, flowers, preserves; Boxford & Newburyport, MA (weekly)
Oriental Farm: Specialty vegetables; Brockton, MA (weekly)
Sherman & Cherie’s Beezy Bees: Local honey; Longmeadow, MA (1-2x per month)
Steve’s Original Sauces: Selection of barbeque and sriracha sauces; Belmont, NH (bi-weekly)
Veronica Robles Cultural Center: Elotes locos (Mexican street corn); East Boston, MA (weekly)
Boston Cyclists Union: Free bike repairs while you wait! Replacement parts available at cost.
Lost Art Cultured Foods: Artisanal sauerkraut; Providence, RI
Samira’s Homemade: Authentic Lebanese hummus, dips, and finger foods; Cambridge, MA
Seven Hills Pasta: Artisan dried pasta; Melrose, MA