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Soon after the start of the coronavirus crisis in March, The North Park Thursday Market, as well as many other farmers’ markets across San Diego, were forced to shut down.

Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation’s economy, food systems, and communities. They serve a vital economic role –– when food is produced, processed, distributed and sold all within the same region, more money stays in the local economy. Additionally, they “support neighborhood revitalization, incubate small businesses who may otherwise lack capital or resources, and offer a uniquely local supply chain that directly benefits local economies,” (brookings.edu).

Connecting rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers’ markets have become an integral part to many communities across the nation. Without them, food insecurity is heightened, the agricultural food supply chain is put at risk, and local economies become increasingly devastated –– which is why Governor Gavin Newsom finally decided to classify them as an essential food service after almost two months of being shut down. 

This wouldn’t have happened without the vital efforts and advocacy from the local community and swift action from the City, County and State who worked to get regulations in place that would ensure a safe and effective operation. 

As soon as farmers’ markets were given the green light to reopen, a team of local North Park volunteers got to work. There were many modifications that had to be made in order to keep everyone safe and to abide by social distancing guidelines. For example, prepared foods could no longer be sold in the market –– only produce, flowers, prepackaged goods and ‘covid-friendly’ items. 

Thanks to our team of volunteers, the North Park Thursday Market was able to successfully return with safety as the first concern.  Market-goers were thrilled to purchase goods from some of their favorite vendors, and farmers no longer felt uncertain about whether or not they’d be able to sell their freshly harvested crops.