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Our farmers' market coordinator Kerry has a plea to everyone who shops at the farmers' market: please do three things to help us keep the market open and our community safe.
We’ve managed to keep the Growing Communities farmers' market open since the first lockdown. This has been essential in enabling our amazing small farmers and producers to continue to farm and produce food. We have really enjoyed the positive comments and emails from those of you who are happy to have been able to continue buying organic fresh produce direct from the people who produce it.
Now that the infection rate in London has escalated and plans to increase lockdown measures are being discussed, we need you to help us keep our market open.
First, please write to your local MP (who will be either Diane Abbott or Meg Hillier if you live in Hackney) and ask them to support markets staying open during this latest lockdown. Here is a link to a template letter you can use if you like. It’s important that decision-makers know how important food markets are to individuals, farmers and communities and how critical they have been through the pandemic so far.
From this coming Saturday (23 January 2021) mask wearing will be compulsory for everyone entering the market, unless you are exempt. (If this is the case let us know when you enter.)
We are introducing this policy at the market in order to protect our community, our farmers (and their families) and our staff (and their families). We will end our mask-wearing policy when the lockdown ends or when the level of infection in London declines substantially.
Although outdoor markets are safer places to shop because of being outdoors, the increased transmissibility of the new variant of the virus means we want to take extra precautions to keep us all safe and reduce pressure on the NHS in Hackney at this critical time.
We will maintain our 2metre social distancing in queues inside and outside the market. We have also taken note of feedback from many, many customers who would like us to increase our precautions as well as academic opinions, including Dr Shaun Fitzgerald FREng, Royal Academy of Engineering, Visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge, who works on natural ventilation. He said recently:
“The risk outdoors is much lower than indoors. However, if you are outdoors and there are other people around, then if the air is relatively stagnant the risk will be higher, especially if you are stationary. If you are queuing at a market stall which is only really open to one side then this is very different from passing someone on a walk by the sea. I absolutely agree with the suggestion of wearing face coverings outdoors in environments where the air is relatively stagnant and where queues form.”
We know that not everyone will be happy about the new policy, but we think the safety of the majority outweighs the inconvenience for a few. It will also mean that we are taking all possible steps to ensure the market can stay open.
We understand that some of you may choose not to shop at the market as a result. Please take up any concerns you have about this with me via email – not with our hard-working market staff. Please bear in mind that anyone who abuses our staff will be banned from the market. We are a small community organisation working very hard to keep the market open for the farmers and for our community. Everything we do is to ensure that can continue.
We appreciate everyone’s patience and fortitude in queuing safely outside and inside the market every Saturday. Please queue close to the church railings and avoid congregating around the market entrance once you’ve left the market. We need to keep the pavement clear so other pedestrians and residents can pass by safely.
The market will be 18 years old this May! We hope your support now will mean that we’ll all be able to celebrate 18 years of farmer-focused trade and friendship together then.