For a decade, Farmers on the Square has provided the Carlisle community with farm fresh products and goods. During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the farmers’ market stepped up its game to continue to feed the town.
The market is located in the town’s center at the intersection of Hanover and High streets, every Wednesday from 3-7 p.m.
More than 27 vendors sell their produce ranging from baked goods, vegetables, gluten-free pizza and fruit.
Kali Boehle-Silva has been the head manager of the farmers’ market since February 2020. She brings previous market experiences including from Washington, D.C.
“[Farmers on the Square] is really different from the ones in D.C. in a lot of great ways. I think it’s because it is a community supported market that you do not always see in a big city,” Boehle-Silva said.
To make the food accessible to everyone the market accepts EBT food stamp cards and established the Farmers Market Nutrition Program where people get checks of $6 if they are a WIC recipient from a lower income.
During the coronavirus quarantine in March 2020 the number of vendors increased dramatically to fill in customer needs as food and products became scarce.
Boehle-Silva said the increased demand caused the market to move outside to the town square earlier than scheduled.
“When the pandemic happened a lot of businesses were closed farmers’ markets were classified as essential because we were similar to a grocery store in that we are providing food for a community and the borough was really great about supporting us,” Boehle-Silva said.
According to Sustainable Food Trust, farmers’ markets have an integral part of not only the local economy but in the national economy as well. The use of small local farms means less spent on land and equipment and its organically grown food can improve health.
The market implemented new safety measures to stop the spread of coronavirus to protect both vendors and customers.
Boehle-Silva and the Farmers on the Square board organized a new set of rules and regulations on how the market would function in the new normal. Market officials sought the vendors’ input before making the final decisions.
As a result, the market spaced out every vendor’s tent within 10 to 15 feet apart as they viewed the 6 feet apart rule inadequate for the number of vendors and customers the market had.
“All the vendors are masked. Some vendors wear face shields, and we provide hand sanitizer,” Boehle-Silva said. “We [also] rented a porta-potty and a couple of hand washing stations.”
The market also restricted vendors from displaying products to avoid any contamination. Customers were only allowed to touch what they were going to buy.
The market also created a curbside pick-up service and a pre-order system located on its website to cater to customers who wanted to avoid contact.
For the winter, the market is open Wednesdays from 2-5 p.m.