Santa Monica’s famed farmer’s markets have returned to local streets after a hiatus.
The downtown market, which is traditionally held every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., has remained operational throughout the pandemic but the Pico and Main street markets were temporarily closed as a result COVID-related orders. However, all three markets are expected to be open this weekend, according to Market Manager Jackie Rivera-Krouse, who confirmed the Main Street market will reopen to the public this Sunday to serve prepackaged food items.
“We’ve heard from so many community members who really missed the neighborhood markets so we’re really, really happy that we can come back to provide such a great service,” Rivera-Krouse said, immediately adding, “Of course, we’ll be reopening with a lot of safety measures in place.”
All three local markets will be sure to strictly enforce distancing and intend to have specific entrance and exit areas, “so instead of coming in from all angles, we are making sure we’re keeping a safe flow of customers in and out of the area. There will be also signs and, of course, masks will be required both in line to go into the farmers market and inside the market. But, once you’re inside you’ll be reunited with your favorite local farmers,” Rivera-Krouse said, admitting the scene inside the market may look a bit different than it traditionally has in the past.
“Life in general has changed so much over the past few months,” and so have the rules regarding live music and entertainment options, Rivera-Krouse said, detailing how the markets will be without the sights and sounds that locals have become accustomed to in years past. “But we’re hoping that we can still just be a great access point for the community for your other essential shopping and we hope you’ll stick with us as things change and shift in the coming months because we’re looking to reintegrate that programming as soon as we can.”
While it may be missing some bits of entertainment, the Pico Market does have a Market Match program, which is really important these days since so many people are facing economic uncertainty, Rivera-Krouse said. “I’ve heard from so many people that have lost jobs and are using CalFresh for the first time as a way to help stretch the food dollars and their budget. So I always tell them about the Market Match program because it really helps stretch that food budget even more.”
Through the program, local residents check in with staff, who will then get them tokens that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We have our Market Match representative from our partner organization — Hunger Action LA — who’s kind of like a celebrity at the farmers market. He’s been doing it for years and he’s super friendly with answering any questions about the program. It’s quick and easy to get situated; you don’t really have to enroll or anything if you’re in the CalFresh EBT program,” Rivera-Krouse said, mentioning it feels great to see the markets return to meet the needs of the community.
“I know a lot of people have been asking about them, and it seems everybody has their own preference. Some people prefer smaller markets right now, during this time and I think they’re a really great extra option for people who may not feel like downtown is a good fit for them,” Rivera-Krouse said. “So, we’re really happy to provide that option, and I have to give a shout out to our amazing volunteers who helped get us to this moment because we could not be here without our amazing crew of people. It’s been a true community effort to get us to this point and we’re really happy that we’ve really gotten the community involved and onboard to help make this happen.”