The Farmers’ Market : An Essential Business

A message from the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce regarding the decision to keep the weekly Farmers' Market open

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Farmers' Market in South Pasadena

From the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, Laurie Wheeler:

The South Pasadena Certified Farmers’ Market is operated by the Chamber of Commerce.  The Market has been a part of the fabric of South Pasadena for over 20 years.  Shoppers from South Pasadena and near-by communities enjoy the ambiance and products available at the weekly, award winning “rain or shine” market.  Sellers at the market include farmers – they produce the produce and grow what they sell.  These include produce, honey, meats and other such products.  There are also vendors selling either “prepackaged food” or “prepared food”.  The prepackaged food includes products such as bread, yogurt, and other grocery items that a shopper will take home to consume.  Prepared is food that is prepared to order and ready to eat on-site.

All certified farmers markets in the county are under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) except for Pasadena and Long Beach, which each have their own health departments.

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At the beginning of the current “safer-at-home” order during the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Public Health and the County DPH determined that outdoor certified farmers markets were an important source of fresh food and were an essential service and allowed to be open, with certain conditions.  There was to be no sampling of products, no hot foods or cooking on site.  Social distancing protocol must be maintained and everyone was reminded to stay home if they felt ill at all.    

The South Pasadena Market made the modifications and adjustments mandated by the DPH and opened the market.  These included: creating an exit and entrance at each booth, adding more space between each booth, disinfecting the equipment used by the public more frequently, not allowing customers to touch the produce and reminding them to thoroughly wash produce before consumption.

Many people prefer to shop at a farmers’ market for a variety of reasons – they like the shorter supply chain (the products are handled by fewer people), they want freshly picked produce and unique products available at a farmers market.  Others feel safer purchasing from an outdoor market, rather than in a traditional grocery store.

PHOTO: Cyndi Bemel | | Fresh berries ready to eat at South Pasadena Farmers Market

The Chamber has been in constant communication with the police and fire department and other city departments. SPPD has been on-site each week to monitor the market and ensure compliance with social distancing mandates.

We have also spoken several times with the DPH, getting clarification and guidance from them on our specific market conditions.  We have also had two health department inspectors at the market on Thursday, April 2; one inspector was conducting a survey on the market’s compliance with the DPH orders.  The second was a more extensive inspection, which are generally conducted on a regular basis.  Both inspections yielded no violations and no issues with the operation of the Market.

The DPH issued new guidelines on 4/2/2020 that disallowed prepackaged foods (breads, yogurt, chips, etc.); only farmers/producers were to be allowed. The Market was open on 4/9/2020 in compliance, and in the rain.

On April 14, a new set of guidelines for farmers markets was issued, including prepackaged foods being re-allowed in markets.

We made the decision to not open on Thursday, 4/16, so we could properly revise the market layout to include these vendors again within the protocols of the DPH, as well as to make sure the market would be in compliance with more new conditions issued by the DPH.