Business up 50% at local Farmers Market

Quail eggs are all that's left on display as Guido Emilio, of Urban Fresh Farms, talleys his sales after selling out of 75 dozen eggs in the first hour at the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market in Newhall on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Despite COVID-19 concerns and inclement weather, the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market in Newhall experienced a large turnout on Saturday. 

The Old Town Newhall Farmers Market is an open-air market held adjacent to the Old Town Newhall Library every Saturday, rain or shine, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Foods to make breakfast, lunch and dinner were available at the market for the community to choose from. 

Prior to the market’s opening, all vendors were educated on proper sanitization techniques to help prevent and limit the spread of the virus. 

“We brought supplies (such as gloves and tongs) for the vendors to use and had extra hand-washing facilities,” said market manager Larry McClements. “We made sure to wipe down anything that someone could possibly touch.” 

A woman walk in the Wiley Canyon Road cross walk as she crosses Lyons Avenue in the rain on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

McClements explained that rainy days are usually challenging days for their market, but the deficit was not present in Saturday’s sales. 

Business at the market was up at least 50% on Saturday, according to McClements. Nearly everything that was sold at the market, sold out before closing. This is not a normal occurrence at the weekly market, McClements said. 

“When we ran out of eggs, I had my son drive to our egg vendor’s farm in Val Verde to get more,” said McClements. “There was a line of people waiting for him to get back.” 

Meat sold out two hours before closing, while fish, bread, eggs and produce sold out later in the event. Most shelves and tables were left empty by closing time. 

There were no more than 250 people present at one time during the market’s duration, which aligns with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s suggestion to have gatherings no larger than 250 people.  

Most of the vendors in the market are farmers, who rely on the sales they make at the market to make a living. 

Debby Urrutia of Acton Farms harvests naturally grown kale, red cabbage and pea shoot microgreens for shoppers at the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market in Newhall on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“This is their livelihood,” said McClements. “They are not rich, but they are very very hardworking.” 

In light of COVID-19 concerns, McClements has helped implement a curbside grocery program for elderly individuals and other high-risk residents. However, McClements asks that the community not to abuse the free program. 

McClements offers this program so those who are at risk of suffering complications from COVID-19 can still receive fresh produce from the market without having to leave their home. 

“Our product has a very short journey to market,” said McClements. “When I get berries, I literally take them from the farmer who harvested them and sell them to the community.”  

“We bring fresh food that the supermarkets can’t compete with,” McClements added. 

For more information about the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market, click here.

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