In the greenhouses at Front Porch Farm, broccoli, chard, and cabbage are sprouting. In a short time, the fresh produce will be ready to sell at farmers markets around the region. Having access to locally produced food is more important than ever before.
“Seeing the way the infrastructure is stretched, having local food is pretty important. We feel that providing food for people is vital,” said Merritt Acheson, owner of Front Porch Farm.
This year, however, there will be some significant changes to how markets operate. Farmers markets are considered essential businesses and must follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The INW Farmers Market Association, the non-profit that oversees nine markets in the area, will have to make certain adjustments and keep the markets open.
Lisette Alent, Executive Director of INWFMA, says funding for their non-profit is down in part because large fundraisers the organization typically relies on are no longer taking place and donations are down. This has been a challenge as the organization has had to purchase hand washing stations for the markets and hire extra people to make sure every farmers market is safe and sanitary.
Keeping markets open means Front Porch Farms and other farmers can keep food on the table of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people across the region. Last year, 500,000 people visited farmers markets throughout the Inland Northwest.
“It’s our livelihood,” said Merritt.