As the COVID-19 outbreak spread earlier this year and Californians were facing challenges brought-on by quarantine directives, certified farmers’ markets emerged as even greater essential hubs of local food availability. While initial disruptions in national and regional supply chains created empty packaged goods and toilet paper shelves in the center of supermarkets, our farmers kept on producing fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables for the produce section, and farmers’ markets were places to reliably find them – and meet the farmers who grew them!
I am grateful for the market managers and farmers who have fully embraced their role in this crisis by adhering to rules and guidelines set forth by the Department of Public Health on social distancing, masks, hand-washing and sanitation. It was clear that farmers’ markets needed to be places where people felt safe in acquiring food necessary for their physical and mental health. I am thankful for CDFA staff who supported the local markets with timely information and support to implement the changes so people can continue to access the nutritious California-grown fresh produce and other ag products available at certified farmers markets.
We have more than 670 certified farmers’ markets in California, and all of them are continuing to serve their intended purpose of supporting local farmers and providing healthy food to communities.
I appreciate the innovation of farmers work hard to grow, harvest and travel to farmers’ markets. Those markets became even more important for them this year with the loss of sales to restaurants. True to the innovation of California growers, many responded by creating new online platforms to connect with consumers near and far and expanding community supported agriculture farm boxes directly to consumers through innovative delivery and pick-up options.
2020 – the year of telework, virtual learning, conferences and meetings – brought a whole new meaning to “what’s for dinner!” How blessed we are by the bounty and diversity of what is grown in California and its direct impact on healthy lifestyles. For that I am truly grateful.