CARLSBAD — After weeks of being off the street due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular State Street Farmers Market in Carlsbad Village returned on May 6 with new health guidelines.
The market, which is operated by the Carlsbad Village Association, had 891 people attend, although the event scaled down its vendors to abide by state and county health orders, according to Christine Davis, executive director of the CVA. The market is open each Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m.
The market has been operating for the past 26 years, but had gone dark for the past seven weeks, the longest hiatus in its history, due to the pandemic, she added.
“We did that in collaboration with the city,” Davis said. “We wanted to do our part and not tax their resources. For a variety of different reasons, we decided it best to stay closed through the entire public health order that was going through the end of April.”
On May 13, the market expanded its vendor list, although new rules and guidelines are in place to ensure compliance with the state and county health orders. Those include vendors who rope off their entrances and are at least six feet away from each other.
In addition, customers must point to the food they want and the vendor will then bag the items and place them on a table. No sampling is allowed. Also, all vendors and patrons must wear facemasks, while vendors must also wear gloves, Davis said.
Hand washing stations are also placed throughout the market, which is located on State Street between Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue. The only animals allowed are certified service pets, Davis said.
“The biggest challenge we’ve had is not having all of our vendors there because of needing to open up space between vendors,” she explained. “We are concentrating on the certified growers.”
The seven added vendors for the May 13 market are “high nutritional” sellers with products not traditionally found in a grocery store, Davis said. The May 6 event had 20 vendors. Carlsbad police patrol the market to ensure patrons and vendors are following the county health orders, which include physical distancing, facemasks and the new guidelines regarding vendors.
“I was nervous that the public would not find it easy to social distance, but with the new layout it’s so simple,” Davis said. “It’s much safer, in my opinion, than a grocery store where you’re much closer to other people. It went better and more smoothly than anticipated. It was a huge relief.”
Also, she said the market is asking the public to shop and then return home in concert with the stay-at-home order. Davis said there is no congregating or live music and the new market is a model of an outdoor grocery store.