Farmers market working to bring fresh food to residents

Farmers market working to bring fresh food to residents

The farmers’ market will offer pre-assembled boxes of fresh produce for those who want to reduce shopping time.


Shoppers at this season’s Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market will be able to gather most, if not all, the things they have come to expect: fresh produce, meats, eggs and baked goods.

What will change is the overall experience, an experience the market’s board of directors has temporarily surrendered with no joy. The market will reopen June 10, just one week later than the normal date.

“Everything we’ve done in the past,” said Mark McKenzie, TVFM board chair, “has been centered around bringing people together. We’ve always worked to create a market that is at the center of the community. This year we have to keep the safety and well-being of market customers and vendors ahead of everything else, so there will be some changes.”

McKenzie said the board has been doing considerable research before making decisions about when, or if, to open to the public in 2020.

“We have struggled to determine what’s best for everyone. We’ve visited several other markets and talked to a lot of people. We looked at what others are doing or are planning to do, with an eye toward being as respectful as possible of all the considerations we are facing. We wanted to determine best practices and do the best we possibly can,” McKenzie said.

Some of the changes in place for the 2020 season include the kinds of things with which consumers are now quite familiar. The grounds will be marked to keep people at least 6 feet apart. Hand-washing stations will be plentiful. Hand sanitizer will be readily available.

“We’re changing the layout of the market to keep vendors farther apart, which will allow customers to stay farther apart. You won’t have vendors across the walkway from each other. Each row of vendors will be a separate, one-way path,” McKenzie said.

Vendors also will be spaced farther apart.

McKenzie said the first 30 minutes of the market will be open to older customers only. “We want to give them a chance, if they want, to take time for themselves and reduce their possible exposure to others,” he said.

McKenzie said though past seasons have been aimed at bringing people closer together through activities and music, this year will be about keeping people apart. “We plan to ask that just one family member come to the market at a time, rather than the whole family. We won’t be offering live music or any of the classes we’ve offered in the past,” he said.

Decisions such as these have not been easy for the all-volunteer board. “We’ve had a hard time, frankly,” McKenzie said. “Some of our board members are older and won’t be able to participate in the hands-on way they’d like. They won’t be helping at the market itself but will offer invaluable service in other ways.”

McKenzie stressed the ways in which the market has not changed. “There will be plenty of the kind of fresh product on hand that everyone expects. The COVID-19 pandemic has actually helped people appreciate direct connections to producers even more. I know many of our vendors, and just about all returning this year are seeing an increase in demand for their products,” he said.

McKenzie said one innovation is the availability of a preordered produce box. “If someone wants to buy some fresh produce but would rather not come out to the market and spend time shopping, vendors will offer an excellent box of mixed fresh produce for just $20. Just talk to your favorites about what you’d like,” he said.

The big unknown, McKenzie said, was how far customers would be willing to cooperate in the changes the board felt necessary. “We’re asking everyone to please wear a mask when they shop,” he said. “We’re asking everyone to respect social distancing and to use the washing stations and sanitizer available. We hope everyone will come to the market in the spirit of protecting all concerned, but that part is out of our hands.”

The Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market is at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds in Dover at 259 Tuscarawas Ave. and open this year from 3-7 p.m. Learn more at

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