Ithaca Farmers Market has been a central part of the Ithaca community for over 46 years and a beloved hotspot for nearby students. With over 100 vendors, the market has allowed many aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to start their own business on a small scale without the expenses or risks usually associated with the process. As a result, throughout the years the market has helped grow brands such as Gimme Coffee, Ithaca Hummus and Emmy’s Organics. Although Ithaca Farmers Market was able to stay open during the pandemic, business was far from usual. To maintain social distancing, weekend market vendors were limited to 50% normal capacity, while the Wednesday and Sunday markets were forced to open a month later than usual. Not deemed essential, artisan vendors were also not allowed to attend the market for 2 months.
Ithaca Farmers Market has worked in conjunction with the Tompkins County Health Department to keep the market open as a safe grocery outlet, as opposed to the social gathering spot it is known to be. With the well-being of their customers being top priority, the farmers market implemented a series of vital safety measures to help stop the spread of the virus. To start, market staff have been strictly enforcing a “one person per household or group” rule, which has recently expanded to two people per group. Of course, masks are required for anyone who enters while staff use a counting app to prevent reaching maximum capacity. With these measures in place, the market hopes that customers will truly be able to shop safely at a six feet distance from others. Eating is also currently not allowed on site, which is a heartbreaking reality for many. Although dining is no longer allowed at nearby picnic tables or the waterfront boardwalk, the market has now allowed for every booth to be filled, including the artisans that were initially turned away for business. This first stage will last up to two weeks, with more changes to come after an initial assessment and close monitoring on proper social distancing.
Although the market has slowly started to return back to normal, it is without a doubt that the global pandemic has caused IFM to experience serious drops in revenue while also enduring drastic day-to-day changes. To combat some of these losses, the market has set up a donation page for the first time in over forty years of existence on their website to reach out to their community for support.
Remarkably, between July 9th-12th, Ithaca Hummus, a nationally known company that started selling at the market in 2013, has offered to match any donations that were made to Ithaca Farmers Market to help the market reach (or surpass) their $20,000 goal. Now selling in major markets like Whole Foods and Fairway, Ithaca Hummus would like to do nothing more than support an organization that is so near and dear to their hearts. To become a ‘market hero’ yourself, anyone can donate using Paypal to benefit the organization using this link: https://ithacamarket.com/donate/. And keep in mind that any donation over $30 will receive an exclusive tote!
Although the market is unsure when things will fully return back to normal, they will stay committed to the health and safety of their customers, while also putting access to local and healthy food as a top priority. Donate to the COVID-19 fundraising campaign today to help sustain the market! https://ithacamarket.com/donate
Fun Fact: Did you know that within the three categories of vendors in Ithaca Farmers Market (food, farm, and artisan), each lives and works within 30 miles from the market? Normally, “local” can mean anything from over 100 miles away to the entire New York state, which can oftentimes be deceiving. But the goal here is to keep money in our community’s economy, and allow customers to get to know their neighbors on a more personal level.
Sofia Siciliani is a Sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected].