New rules, new spot for Amherst farmers market

  • Virginia Marguerite Brown of Shutesbury, left, talks with New Braintree-based Chicken Feather Farm co-owner Lee McLaughlin April 21, 2018, during the opening day of the outdoor Amherst Farmers' Market at the Town Common.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2020 8:52:58 PM

AMHERST — A larger location on the Town Common and revised procedures aimed at keeping customers and vendors safe will be in place when the Amherst Farmers Market’s 49th season begins later this month.

For the first time, the market, which will open May 30 at 7:30 a.m., will be on the large expanse of greenspace each Saturday, rather than the pavement of the Spring Street parking lot and section of Boltwood Avenue.

The opportunity to use the Town Common came because the area, normally reserved for days-long events such as the annual Rotary Community Fair and the Taste of Amherst, will be vacant this spring, summer and fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That gives us plenty of space to spread out and distance,” says market manager David Machowski.

The market will be open each week from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with up to 37 vendors who will have produce, meats and eggs, baked goods, flowers, and other items.

The Town Council this week approved the revised plans that, at least for 2020, make a series of changes to enhance social distancing and limit people from making the market a social occasion.

Among the rules will be a requirement that all people wear face coverings and keep at least six-feet apart while walking through the market. A sanitizing station will be positioned at the entrance and where people will be asked to line up. 

“It will have a sequential pathway instead of your being able to wander,” Machowski said of entering the market.  

Machowski said even though the market is starting about six weeks late, farmers are expecting what he calls “pent-up demand” for local produce, which he observes has not stopped or postponed the usual growing season.

Ten parking spaces in the Spring Street lot will be dedicated for customers interested in curbside pickup. People should soon be able to place orders in advance online using CherryTree Market with many of the vendors signing up to be part of this service. 

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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