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Mt. Holly Farmers Market getting set for another great season

By Alan Hodge

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The long-awaited spring 2020 opening of the Mt. Holly Farmers Market is coming up - with some important tweaks to help customers and vendors stay safe during the COVID-19 situation. The market will open  at 8 am, Saturday May 9th. The market is located at 226 S. Main St. in downtown Mt. Holly. Look for the large open air trellis. This year marks the market’s 15th anniversary.

The health and safety related changes are as follows: One Entry/Exit into the market for customers. Pick up area will be provided if needed. Online Sales sales and pickup will be available. Hours from 8 am to 8:30am are designated for seniors and special needs customers only. The market will provide a required hand-washing station for customers before entering market. The market  will expand out over the entire available area to enhance and exceed social distancing recommendations - 9 feet between vendors. Gloves will be used by all vendors at their tables, and  hand sanitizers will be available. All materials will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before and after market set up. The market will round up purchases to the dollar to reduce cross contamination from coins, therefore no change will be available. 

“We take very seriously the health and well-being of everyone involved in our market, and have conferred with state, county and local governments for guidelines and recommendation,” said market official Leigh Brinkley. “These measures will help make sure our customers will still have access to the locally-sourced vegetables and  fruit, meats, baked goods, cheeses and plants and flowers they have enjoyed for 14 years. We feel these efforts - though inconvenient - will maximize the safety, and minimize the risk, for all. We will relax them as soon as government and health experts agree there is no further threat from the virus.”

This year the market will have around 30 vendors offering the usual bounty of fresh vegetables, meat, baked goods, flowers, and more. There will be some new faces and products as well. 

“We will have a vendor from Gastonia selling hydroponically grown vegetables,” said Brinkley. “We’ve never had that before. There will also be a vendor selling mushroom products. Two new farms will be at the market. One is from Vale and the other is the Thomas Family Farm with goat products. We are excited to have both of them.”

The market also plans to till a patch of nearby dirt and plant some sweet ‘taters. The produce will be donated to Mt. Holly’s relief agency the CRO. 

As usual, credit and debit cards will be accepted at the market, as will EBT/SNAP transactions.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This card can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.

To be eligible for SNAP, most households must meet certain bank balance limits. A household with an elderly (over 60) or disabled household member may have a higher bank balance limit. More details at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program

The way it works is folks can present their SNAP card at a booth for that purpose at the market. The card account values are used to obtain wooden tokens which are in turn used to purchase food. Precooked hot food and art and craft items cannot be bought with the tokens, but things such as fruit and vegetables can. Anyone, not just SNAP clients, can purchase the wooden tokens instead of using a bank card or writing a check for their purchases.

Overall, this year’s Mt. Holly Farmers Market will once again be an oasis of healthy food for its customers and a safe place to shop for it.