Beacons of hope, and bunches of carrots on Larchmont

| April 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

HEADS OF CAULIFLOWER and a bountiful harvest of fresh foods are on display on Larchmont every Sunday.

Certified farmers markets are bringing fresh bread and produce and much-needed smiles to area residents on Larchmont Boulevard and in the Miracle Mile. The former market is every Sunday; the latter is every Wednesday.

A new at-home delivery service is also being tested, which could start soon at both locations, according to market managers.

“We’re trying to get it off the ground. We have a huge population of 65 and older and just people who don’t want to leave their homes,” said Melissa Farwell, director of coordination for Calabasas-based Raw Inspiration, which is running a dozen of its markets even during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re trying to get fresh produce out there. We have access to all of these vendors, and they’re struggling too.”

The farmers come from throughout Southern California, bringing fruits and vegetables, packaged meats and fish, prepared foods and baked breads.

Essential business, new rules

Farmers markets are considered an “essential facility,” like a grocery store, by government agencies. So, in this national emergency, they are allowed to continue, with some caveats.

Trying the hummus is verboten under the new rules, which are designed to keep people moving and not standing in line. So, no sampling, and no touching the merchandise except for products you intend to buy.

The idea is for the customers to load up on groceries, and then go. Stand six-feet apart. No hugging or shaking hands. Seating has been removed.

Musicians and other performers, crafters and petting zoos are on-site no more.

It might sound a bit bleak, but these are the times in which we find ourselves. These and more changes are in place to keep the farmers market area safe and clean for everyone, said Farwell.

“We bring healthy produce and foods directly to the consumer. That is needed at this time, more than ever.

“With access to foods being more and more limited across Southern California, we are here for you,” she added.

Sundays, Wednesdays

The Larchmont Farmers Market takes place on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Larchmont Blvd., in the city parking lot between Beverly Blvd. and First St.

The Miracle Mile Farmers Market meets on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Courtyard Place, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., between Curson and Masselin avenues.

More new rules

The market operator described to us the other immediate changes made last month in response to the coronavirus:

— Vendors must use gloves and have hand washing stations or use hand sanitizer.

— Vendors and patrons must avoid touching their faces, noses and mouths (especially after handling money).

— Each vendor will display signs asking the public not to pick up and handle the product, to only touch what one is going to buy.

— Signs will be posted throughout the market encouraging and reminding customers about social distancing.

— The layouts at each of the markets have been opened up to accommodate social distancing practices.

—Patrons are reminded to wash their purchases when they get them home.

And, of course, any vendor or customer who is sick should remain at home and not come to the farmers market.

Weekly market benefits

Farwell summed up some of the advantages of shopping at these weekly markets:

— They are low risk, open-air environments that easily allow for six-foot social distancing.

— Sunlight provides a powerful, natural disinfectant and a positive exposure to Vitamin D.

— Food directly traveling from the farm is handled at a much lower rate than in commercial systems. Most farmers market items are harvested and packed by only a few people within 100 miles or less, whereas brick and mortar grocery stores often import internationally, tend to have a multitude of persons and places involved in product handling and packaging, utilize wide distribution networks and have multiple transit points.

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