EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Since June 1st, the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market has drawn those who want fresh, locally sourced food.
Due to COVID-19, it changed the way this year’s market operated. According to market manager Deidra Barrickman, it also gave people something to do outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are happy that we still had the farmers market,” Barrickman says. “I was hearing a little too about them saying that it made their summer feel a little more normal and that they could get out and do things, they’re thankful for the local food and the access to it.”
Barrickman says fewer people visited the market this year, which may have impacted sales for some vendors. However, local farmer Dan Sam says that does not mean that they were any less busy.
“Our season started in July with sweet corn and right from the beginning it was extremely busy,” Sam says. “Maybe not as many people coming to the market all the time, but the ones that were coming seemed to be serious buyers.”
In fact, Sam says their overall sales were actually up this year. The reason may be due to a shift towards buying local.
“I think that’s been changing over the last 15 or 20 years,” Sam says. “People buying more local, knowing where their farmers are from and what they are doing.”
“I think that we were seeing in stores, shortages of food,” Barrickman says. “I think that it is good for all of us to see that we need to depend on ourselves and our local economy.”
Barrickman says some vendors did have their season cut short by the unusually early start to winter.
“I think it did because they had a freeze in their gardens,” Barrickman says. “It froze pretty hard for most of them so a lot of their crops were finished for the season.”
With the market finished for the season, vendors are already looking forward to next year.
“Next season we are hoping things look a little more normal,” Sam says. “If they’re not, we’ll do it just like we did this year.”
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