Berkeley Farmers’ Markets Response to  COVID 19: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

As an essential service, the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets REMAIN OPEN, providing fresh, healthy food for the community. We are actively making operational changes to protect customers, farmers, and staff, and to mitigate the spread of disease. We know there have been many changes and here is a list of some frequently asked questions.

Berkeley Farmers’ Markets Response to COVID 19: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How are the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets addressing safety concerns and social distancing requirements regarding COVID-19?
Are there limited hours now due to COVID-19?
When is the best time to come to the market?
Do you have senior shopping hours? If not, why not?
Are there designated entrances?
Can I bring my own reusable bag?
Why must I wait in line to get into the market?
Do I have to wait if I am just picking up a CSA or pre-order?
Do I have to wear a face mask or covering?
Do I have to wash and sanitize my hands before and after market?
Can I touch any of the produce?;
Are there pick up and delivery options?
Should I help the market by policing other customers?
How should I wash my produce when I get home from the Market?
How do I stay up-to-date about changes to the market?
How can I support the Farmers’ Markets further?

How are the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets addressing safety concerns and social distancing requirements regarding COVID-19?

As an essential service, the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets are actively making extensive operational changes to protect customers, farmers, and staff, and to mitigate the spread of disease. We have created and adopted a Social Distancing Protocol that details on-site measures to keep customers,vendors, and employees safe.

The three weekly Farmers’ Market Protocols are posted on site at market, as well as one our website. These Protocols will be updated as information is shared by public health officials about best practices. See our Protocols by visiting this page.

Are there limited hours now due to COVID-19?

No we are not limiting hours at this time. We are open for our normal hours:

Saturday Downtown Berkeley: Center Street and M. L. King, Jr. Way Saturdays 10 am – 3 pm, year-round
Thursday North Berkeley: Shattuck Avenue and Vine Street Thursdays 3 pm – 7 pm, year-round
Tuesday South Berkeley: Adeline Street and 63rd Street Tuesdays 2 pm – 6:30 pm, year-round

When is the best time to come to the market?

The first one to two hours of the market are the most busy and we require that people wait in a line to get inside. The second half of the market usually means you can skip the line to get in and it makes it easier for us to manage too. And yes, there still is plenty to shop (that’s when our market managers shop too!)

Do you have senior shopping hours? If not, why not?

We apologize, but we do not. We felt we did not have the ability to ensure that the market would be safe for those in high-risk groups, including seniors, who are advised to stay home by public health officials. The first hour of the market especially is, by far, the busiest, and we did not want to invite high-risk individuals to come at this time.We recommend seniors ask a neighbor, family member or friend to do their shopping, or to shop during the later hours of Market when there are far fewer shoppers.

We also invite those in high-risk groups to order a Community Supported Agriculture box (CSA) or pre-order with their favorite vendors so they can skip the line to get in. Follow this link to learn which of our vendors provide CSAs and pre-orders.

Are there designated entrances?

Due to the Social Distancing Requirements from the City of Berkeley enacted to keep the markets open and safe, we have created designated entrances at all three Berkeley Farmers’ Markets in order to limit the total number of people in the market at any one time.

Downtown Berkeley: There are five ways to enter the market:
On Center Street:
1. Milvia St. (wait to enter the market, then shop with all of your favorite vendors)
2. MLK Jr. Way (wait to enter the market, then shop with all of your favorite vendors)
3. Happy Boy Farm (shop with Happy Boy first, then shop the rest of the market)
On Allston Way:
4. Allston Way (wait to enter the market, then shop with all of your favorite vendors)
5. Riverdog Farm (shop with Riverdog first, then shop the rest of the market)

North Berkeley: There are three ways to enter the market:
1. North Entrance at Rose St.
2. South Entrance at Vine St.
3. Riverdog Farm on Shattuck at Rose St (shop with Riverdog first, then shop the rest of the market)

South Berkeley: There are three ways to enter the market
1. Full Belly Farm Line at Alcatraz St. (shop with Full Belly first, then shop the rest of the market)
2. Riverdog Farm Line at Stanford St. (shop with Riverdog first, then shop the rest of the market)
3. General Entrance on 63rd St. (wait to enter the market, then shop with all of your favorite vendors)

Can I bring my own reusable bag?

Yes you can bring it, but…. At this time we are asking customers who wish to bring their own bag to keep it on their person at all times. Vendors will hand customers their produce in a paper bag or place it on a clean table surface, and then the customer may take the produce and put it into their own bag. Vendors will also have fresh paper bags on-hand if you need one. Market vendors may NOT pack your reusable bag, unless you have a disability that prevents you from doing so yourself.

Why must I wait in line to get into the market?

To comply with the City of Berkeley’s Social Distancing Requirements we are treating our open-air markets like a store and are limiting the number of people that can be in our “market space” at a given time, (the maximum depends on the square footage of the market.) Limiting the number of shoppers in the Market at any one time reduces person-to-person contact in order to further slow transmission of COVID-19.

If you cannot wait in line, we highly encourage you to plan to shop after the first hour of market, when lines are shorter or non-existent! If you have a disability that prevents you from standing in the market line, please talk to one of our Greeters in a yellow vest about skipping the line. We also have chairs available upon request.

Do I have to wait if I am just picking up a CSA or pre-order?

If that is all you are doing, you do not have to wait in line to pick up your CSA or pre-order. If you would like to shop after or before picking up your order, you must still wait in line to enter the market. Some vendors may still require you to wait in line to pick up your order.

Do I have to wear a face mask or covering?

Yes! As of April 22, 2020 The City of Berkeley mandated the use of face coverings for everyone including customers and workers in essential businesses so that infected people without symptoms don’t unintentionally spread COVID-19. Customers will not be allowed to enter the market if they are not wearing a face covering.

There are limited exceptions to the requirement for people who have physical disabilities that prevent wearing a face covering, are not able to take a face covering off without help, or who have documentation from a medical professional saying they should not wear one. Face coverings are optional for children 3-12 years old, but our essential workers appreciate your children doing so. Children 2 years or younger should not wear masks, as they may create a risk of suffocation. If your child is not wearing a mask, please work to ensure they maintain safe distance from our essential workers and produce.

You can read the City of Berkeley Mandate HERE

We will have a limited number of disposable masks and bandanas on site for those that may have forgotten a face covering.

Do I have to wash and sanitize my hands before and after market?

Yes please! Wash hands, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds before and after shopping at Market. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We will have hand sanitizer and public hand washing stations set up by the Ecology Center information booth. People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth with their hands without even realizing it, increasing vulnerability of infection.

Can I touch any of the produce?

To help reduce spread of c-19, please do not touch or handle any produce that you are not purchasing. Vendors will be handling and packaging produce prior to purchase. If you have specific produce needs, please communicate with vendors directly, do not touch produce or products.

Are there pick up and delivery options?

Yes! Many of our vendors offer pre-order options or at-home delivery. Check out THIS LIST for current delivery and pick-up options.

Should I help the market by policing other customers?

Please be kind to your community member and give them the benefit of the doubt. If you see a customer breaking a rule or being unsafe, you can let someone in a yellow vest know and we will do our best to correct the behavior. This is new for all of us, so chances are whatever they did was an accident and a gentle reminder will be enough!

How should I wash my produce when I get home from the Market?

A basic wash with cold water is enough. Give your produce surfaces a vigorous scrub to dislodge debris and particles. Soaps or other detergents are not recommended as consuming residue is unsafe. There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or packaging. Basic hand washing procedures are still recommended before and after shopping.

How do I stay up-to-date about changes to the market?

Please follow us on Instagram (@ecology.center) or Facebook (@ecologycenter.org) or sign up for our newsletter! You will receive an email once per week on important market changes, returning vendors, and product specials. We will never sell your information.

How can I support the Farmers’ Markets further?

Volunteer! C-19 has changed the ways we do things and that requires a lot of person power. If you are healthy, and not in the high risk category, please consider joining our team.

Becoming a member. Your contributions make the farmers’ market possible. If you can give, please become an Ecology Center member. Be sure to designate Berkeley Farmers’ Market in the donation notes so we can be sure to process your donation appropriately.

Thank you for supporting a more sustainable, healthy and just local food system!

General FAQs

What is the Ecology Center Farmers’ Market
The Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets are open-air marketplaces where California farmers bring fresh, locally-grown produce and farm-processed foods to sell directly to consumers. Our markets feature fruits, vegetables, nuts, baked goods, jams and preserves, juices, olive oils, meat, cheese, prepared foods, nursery plants, and flowers. We are committed to supporting small-scale farmers who practice sustainable agriculture, and we always accept WIC and EBT.

What is the history of the Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets?
In 1987, the Ecology Center took on operation of the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, and we now operate three weekly markets in the East Bay, bringing fresh, organic produce to city dwellers. Our Farmers’ Markets became the first in the country to ban methyl bromide, a severely toxic and ozone-depleting pesticide used most commonly on strawberries. We also banned the use and sale of GMO products from the markets and developed a reporting system to insure compliance. The Berkeley Farmers’ Market continues to promote organic agriculture, provide information on toxics and their alternatives, and reduce waste by promoting and enabling Zero Waste practices.

Where are the Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets located and what are the hours?
The Ecology Center operates three farmers’ markets in Downtown Berkeley, North Berkeley and South Berkeley.
Saturday Downtown Berkeley: Center Street and M. L. King, Jr. Way Saturdays 10 am – 3 pm, year-round
Thursday North Berkeley: Shattuck Avenue and Vine Street Thursdays 3 pm – 7 pm, year-round
Tuesday South Berkeley: Adeline Street and 63rd Street Tuesdays 2 pm – 6:30 pm, year-round
To view a map of the markets click here!
What is a California Certified Farmers’ Market?
A Certified Farmers’ Market (CFM) is a “point of sale” location for California agricultural products. CFMs are usually set up on a weekly basis for California farmers and ranchers (“producers”) to gather together and sell their agricultural products directly to the public.
A Certified Farmers’ Market may only be operated by a local government, a certified producer or a non-profit organization. CFMs must be authorized by the county agricultural commissioner and abide by current legislation and regulations. In addition, CFMs should follow established market rules. Market rules are the set of written rules each CFM develops as its blueprint for activities and operations.
Only producers certified by the county agriculture commissioner may sell at a CFM and must display their Certified Producer Certificate, and a sign with language akin to “We Grow What We Sell.” The re-sale of agricultural products at a CFM is prohibited.

Do you accept EBT at your farmers market?
We always accept CalFresh EBT at our farmers’ markets. Customers who are currently enrolled in CalFresh can also receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10 at any of the Ecology Center farmers’ markets with Market Match. Market Match is California’s healthy food incentive program, which matches customers’ federal nutrition assistance benefits, like CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps), at farmers’ markets. When people use their benefits at farmers’ markets, Market Match provides matching funds so that they can buy even more fruits and vegetables. For example, a shopper who wishes to spend $10 of CalFresh benefits at the farmers’ markets gets an extra $10 to spend on fresh produce. For more information, visit the farmers’ market information booth and ask about CalFresh and Market Match.
The Ecology Center also works to make sure EBT recipients can purchase fresh produce at all farmers’ markets in California, and works with partners statewide to offer Market Match. Click here to read more about our statewide Farmers’ Market EBT Program. Click here to read more about the statewide Market Match program.

What is Market Match?
Market Match is California’s healthy food incentive program, which matches customers’ federal nutrition assistance benefits, like CalFresh and WIC, at farmers’ markets. The program empowers low-income customers to make healthy food choices and benefits hundreds of small and mid-size California farmers.
Led by the Ecology Center, in 2019, Market Match is being offered at more than 260, across the state, by 45 community-based organizations and farmers’ market operators.

Where do I park?
All of our markets have street parking available nearby. We do not provide parking for our markets.

Are Markets handicap accessible?
Yes, our markets are accessible.

Can I bring my pet?
As much as we love pets, they are not allowed at the Farmers’ Market. Only service animals are allowed at our market and they must be kept on a leash.

Can I ride my bike at the market?
You may ride your bike to the market, but riding bikes while shopping at the market is not allowed. Please lock up your bike before hand, or walk your bike through the market.


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