ST. CROIX—Knowing residents, farmers and fishermen look forward to the Saturday farmers market in Estate La Reine, Sen. Allison L. DeGazon reached out to the Department of Agriculture to find out if there was an established protocol for the market.
“I have been fielding a lot of calls from farmers about being able to offload their produce and feeling left out of the conversation,” DeGazon said. “I always want there to be a focus on agriculture, because in times of emergency and if ports are closed, we’ll see how important it is to have an increase in local food production.”
After a phone call with Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Positive T. A. Nelson, it has been established that the Saturday, March 28th farmers market will be open during it’s normal operating hours for vending by farmers and fishermen.
However, residents and vendors are asked to take safety precautions such as wearing gloves, face masks, and practicing social distancing. The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
The Department of Agriculture noted that all produce should be prepackaged if possible. Also, vendors are asked to try to limit customers from touching produce and each vendor should have hand sanitizer or soap and water available on their stands.
Nelson said the department is working diligently on opening the Department of Agriculture’s grounds beginning Saturday, April 4th, allowing vendors to utilize the booths and also to provide the appropriate distance between customers.
Also, farmers who can sell from the convenience of their farm’s location are encouraged to do so.
Due to circumstances, the St. Thomas market will remain closed, however, farmers are encouraged to use their farm sites to sell produce.
Please refer to the department’s website, doa.vi.gov in the upcoming days for updates.
DeGazon looks forward to continuing collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and will continue to monitor the situation in support of local farmers and fishermen.