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Downtown Palo Alto Farmers' Market to reopen, masks required

Uploaded: May 15, 2020
After a two-month hiatus, the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers' Market is returning on May 30 with new safety guidelines.

All vendors, customers and volunteers at the Saturday market will be required to wear masks (in accordance with a new city law). Booths will be spaced farther apart to allow for social distancing and a path will be marked through the market to guide customers. There will be no music or entertainment, no food samples and prepared foods can't be eaten on site. If the market gets too crowded, staff will ask customers to wait outside of the market on sidewalks until enough people leave to allow for social distancing.

"While the new normal will be very different, we're very excited to re-open and continue our 2020 season," said Bob McDiarmid, president of the volunteer-run farmers market.

The Downtown Palo Alto Farmers' Market will reopen on Saturday, May 30. Photo by Veronica Weber.

The downtown Palo Alto market closed in March as farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, considered essential food sources that are permitted to remain open, scrambled to adjust to new public health mandates. At many farmers markets now, vendors take customers' orders and give them their produce to avoid people touching food, and hand sanitizer and social distancing markers are the norm.

Of the 14 volunteers who help manage the downtown Palo Alto market, half are considered high risk for the coronavirus, McDiarmid said. It was untenable to run the market with so few people, so they "spent time talking to friends and family to beef up our volunteer ranks."

Once the May 7 shelter-in-place order was extended, they started planning for a reopening.

The Portola Valley Farmers' Market also temporarily closed in March but soon reopened as a drive-through market with online ordering.

The Los Altos Farmers' Market, which runs on Thursdays from May through September, also recently opened for the season and is requiring masks, along with other safety measures.

The Downtown Palo Alto Farmers' Market, which last year became a year-round market, will continue to operate Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Gilman Street between Forest and Hamilton avenues through December, unless the county mandates otherwise.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 15, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

On March 11, 2020, I contacted Bob McDairmid of the farmers' market and offered to pay $500 each to the bands that had been booked on his schedule, but he turned me down.
I asked if he had paid them a "kill fee" or a portion of what they normally get paid, and he responded that Palo Alto Downtown Famer's Market does not pay their bands.
I suggested that in the future he pay musicians the union minimum which is $75 per service, or $150 for a group. I said that when I ran for City Council in 2009 I approached the Cali Ave market people -- part of a much larger chain -- on the topic and I got run off: "I don't have to listen to a politician" the buffed out, bearded millennial, granola-munching, shot-caller snorted (not Bob, the other market guys -- do they all have beards?)
My thoughts were that people might show up anyways and the music would be a consolation.
And musicians as a class are taking it hard during these times.
For my own day job, the concert series by Earthwise Productions at Mitchell Park Center in Palo Alto I had 10 shows on sale, two or three other confirms and deposits to a handful of the musicians. We proceeded with the March 13 show -- Akira Tana Otonowa, an event that brought attention to disaster relief in Tohoku -- but capped the ticket sales at 150 not 200 -- about 50 people showed up, including city manager Ed Shikada, who I personally invited.
People probably know, though Elena does not describe here, that a couple of the normal Downtown Farmers Market vendors showed up anyhow to sell their good, sort of a gray market. I texted Bob to this effect on March 21.

I moved a sold out show with Cam from April 1 at the Mitch to tentatively June at Lucie Stern but it too likely will be postponed. To the extent the Weekly reported in its 3/13/20 edition and here on line by Yoshi Kato that Earthwise is committing to 50 shows at the Mitch, two months of fear and loathing has not changed that.

Keep on rockin' in the free world.
And eat your veggies!

I posted to my blog Plastic Alto a complete 66 minute concert recording from the 2/25/20 Mardi Gras Duke Ellington concert by Clarinet Thing at Mitchell Park, for free download or streaming.
Web Link

Posted by got all the story?, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 15, 2020 at 4:30 pm

while it's great to see farmers markets open they are hardly "essential", we've been feeding ourselves for 2 months without them. This just shows the arbitrariness of our public official's guidelines.

I went to the Cal Av one last weekend and it was a mosh pit, impossible to space out 6 feet. Yet we continue to keep closed other "non-essential" businesses that could reopen with safety guidelines.

Unbelievable the control a certain few people have on who can work and earn a living and who can't. Frightening.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on May 15, 2020 at 10:01 pm

From what I have been told by a vender is that the farmers markets are doing well,people want to know where there food comes from. Why would you buy garlic from China, when we have Gilroy right here?

Posted by Music!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 16, 2020 at 12:40 am

@Mark Weiss,
That was generous of you. I would suggest making the same offer to the Bay Area Country Dance Society to help musicians who play for contra and English country dances and saw all their gigs cancelled. My musician kid won't apply for unemployment despite losing a fair amount of money that would have gone for college, and that situation now looking grim, because too many people who need their unemployment to eat aren't getting theirs. There were gigs this weekend and on into June that were already cancelled back when this started, and all the work rolling in that will never be.

Techie types expect musicians to work for free or for tips. Churches and schools pay the kinds of wages you suggest. All of that work is completely gone for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Music!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 16, 2020 at 12:47 am

Hey Mark,
I just heard about Keith Urban doing a concert at a drive in movie setting...

Where could we do that here to bring back some live music and nights out for families, completely socially distanced?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 16, 2020 at 8:26 am

Amazing! We can go shopping in an outdoor farmers market with who knows how many other people, in a very small space, but opening the parking lots for Foothills Park and Baylands which are huge in size in comparison, is still too dangerous and people may not socially distance themselves.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 16, 2020 at 8:29 am

PS I mean on weekends, the parking lots are still closed on weekends but we can go to a farmers market instead!

Posted by Buy American!, a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 16, 2020 at 12:14 pm

> "well,people want to know where there food comes from. Why would you buy garlic from China, when we have Gilroy right here?"

^^^ Concurring. We would rather pay more for U.S. produced garlic than for ANYTHING exported from the PRC.

It is amazing how many of the manufactured goods we have lying around the house is 'Made in China'.

Pay more & boycot Chinese made goods!

Posted by ASR, a resident of College Terrace,
on May 16, 2020 at 12:44 pm

It's critical that we buy produce that has been grown in California and around to support labor and farmers.
Only on exception we need to buy things grown out of the area. Thanks.

Posted by TimR, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm

I jog past the post office downtown almost every Saturday morning, and the farmer's market never fully closed. It certainly has had fewer vendors during SIP, but a handful continued to operate. And the Sunday market on CA Ave has been fully open the whole time, so it's not like this is a rule change. So come to think of it, why was CA Ave allowed to remain fully open, but the Sat. downtown one was discouraged from operating?

Posted by Ask cody, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on May 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 16, 2020 at 4:03 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Not to rain on the parade of the farmers market and although it is 77 degrees F and sunny My little magic box is 20% chance of rain, but it seems the weekly could ramp up arts coverage there was a zippo in the last two issues. The New York Times still has an art section.
I presume having done this for 26 years with ups and downs in relatively in active. That I will eventually resume bringing culture to Palo Alto and I think of Elena K above as basically in the same universe since food is a culture, but so far my inclination is to hunker down in woodshed and not rush back with social distancing; although ironically some of the 19 shows last year my best since 32 shows here in 1999 could've used a few more people. I had about 1000 paid customers in 20 1995% of which buy tickets on the Internet eventbrite. Which was roughly 25% capacity.

I might move the rescheduled shows if that happens to Mitchell Park bowl meaning outdoors but that would take a decree by counsel in recent years there have been no hard ticket events not even for nonprofits parentheses about 20 years ago Joan Baez did a hard ticket benefit for someone. Leonard Iniquez of KZSU produced. (where is I did Maria Muldaur and separately los straight jackets for free in the same space under written by a local record store)

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 16, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

So when the time is right and mother nature gives us the high sign and the bent curve maybe we will have a hard ticket outdoors concert series at Mitchell Park like late summer early fall with natural light but amplified sound. But it would take lobbying of city Council and staff and a new force majeure ordinance.

Posted by chris , a resident of University South,
on May 17, 2020 at 11:18 am

Farmers Markets have always been considered essential services but they needed to implement social distancing and hygiene practices.

Posted by vmshadle, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 18, 2020 at 1:37 pm

"while it's great to see farmers markets open they are hardly "essential", we've been feeding ourselves for 2 months without them. This just shows the arbitrariness of our public official's guidelines."

Not arbitrary at all, Mr./Ms. "got all the story?" Regarding the closure of the Palo Alto Saturday market, it was a staffing issue all along (many of the volunteers who run the market are at higher risk). Although a 23-year loyalist of this market, I have continued shopping at the Menlo Sunday market, which quickly put into place a different and larger shopping configuration with signs, lines, and hand washing.

The market staffs along with everyone else, were just trying to figure out how to remain open or reopen given the absolute paucity of real-life experience with a pandemic. It had nothing to do with the arbitrariness of public officials and everything to do with the arbitrariness of the pandemic.

Posted by More Options Needed, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 19, 2020 at 10:14 am

An open air flea market would be a nice addition as well.

Since many Palo Alto residents dispose of their costly appliances and clothing on a semi-regular basis, this would provide an alternative to periodic neighborhood garage sales & Goodwill/Salvation Army donations as in many instances, the merchandise to too good to simply give away.

The San Jose Flea market also sells live chickens, ducks and rabbits for those who prefer to raise them & 'eat at home'.

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