The farmer’s market in downtown Monterey is back after a 15-month closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's the longest running farmers market in Monterey County and like an old friend, when it reopened, it picked up right where it left off.
The Tuesday evening event has always been as much a community block party as a farmer’s market. You can buy locally grown produce and seasonal fruit, but you can also get non-food items like cut flowers and jewelry. In fact, at a recent market you could even get a COVID-19 vaccine shot. Monterey firefighters were offering the shots with no reservation required.
“We’ve got a pop-up clinic. You can get the Johnson and Johnson or the Moderna vaccine here,” Monterey Fire Chief Gaudenz Panholzer said.
Including community vaccinations just seemed like the right thing to do, according to Rick Johnson. He’s the Executive Director of the Monterey Business Association, the organization behind the farmer’s market.
“We try to do those kinds of things in the market, sometimes just bringing a youth group down to sing... it's different things,” said Johnson.
He said the market is the largest weekly gathering in Monterey County, attracting up to 10,000 people on some days. But it’s a scaled down version now, just two city blocks long. Masks are mandatory so there are no food vendors. Still, the market is a time to say hello to old friends.
“We've all shared a rough year and you know what? We survived. We're moving forward,” said Johnson.
The plan is to scale up the market after the state reopens June 15.