Tuolumne county health staff have told the coordinator and creator of Peaceful Valley Farmers Market a half-dozen artisan vendors could not sell their wares and services at the market Friday.
Peaceful Valley Farmers Market is scheduled to open as planned at 4 p.m. Friday, May 1, at 14888 Peaceful Valley Road in East Sonora.
“We’ve got barriers up,” Erin O’Hare said before 3 p.m. “We’ve got signs up we’re ready to go.”
O’Hare, the former coordinator for the Sonora Certified Farmers Market for 10 years, said last week she planned to go ahead and open Peaceful Valley Farmers Market Friday.
City coordinators for the Sonora Certified Farmers Market have delayed their opening until May 30, two weeks later than the normal opening on the third Saturday of May, due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns and existing local and state health guidelines.
The artisans who won’t be able to take part in today’s opening of Peaceful Valley Farmers Market include jewelry makers and vendors, a soap vendor, a pottery vendor, a tie-dye vendor, a housewares vendor, a vendor that sells hand-sewn produce bags, and a masseuse, O’Hare said.
“So we are opening without them but we are opening!” O’Hare said. “We have farmers and food to start.”
Vendors at Peaceful Valley Farmers Market will include about a dozen farmers and other vendors selling food, and one craft vendor selling hand sanitizer, soap and immune support products, O’Hare said.
O’Hare said she was told by a representative for environmental health, on behalf of the county health officer, that business activity at the Peaceful Valley Farmers Market “should just be the sale of food items.”
O’Hare said Friday she spoke up for and advocated for artisans to be allowed to participate at her market, in her communications with county health staff, and she hopes that policy is changed soon.
“I went to Lowe’s to get sawhorses for the market (to serve as perimeter barriers) yesterday and the number of people in the store was mind blowing,” O’Hare told county health staff. “No space for social distancing, no one monitoring the situation, customers touching any and all products even if they weren’t buying them. I can’t make sense of small businesses and vendors going down like sinking ships right now while that type of scene is prevalent in the big box stores.”
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.