If you need fresh produce and want to support local business, you might want to drop by your local farmer’s market, all of course while maintaining social distancing.

Island Farmers are struggling and are asking residents to buy local to help them stay afloat during the global pandemic.

Dave and Barbara Moncrieff run Misty Ridge Coffee Roasting, and are back at the Duncan Farmers’ Market after taking a week off due to COVID-19 concerns.

The couple’s stand does not look like it once used to after implementing a plastic barrier to divide the space between them and customers, in and effort to create more physical distance.

“It’s different,” said Barbara Moncrieff.

“But I’m kind of having a good time,” she said.

With no end in sight to the pandemic, the Duncan couple is one of many Island producers trying to keep their companies going, despite a drastic drop in sales.

“We’ve been coming to the market eight-and-a-half-years,” said Dave Moncrieff.

“So we’re a stable fixture here,” he said.

Crowds were kept to a minimum, social distancing was in place and many wore masks, but many other farmers’ markets have opted not to open during the pandemic.

Shoppers and vendors who came to Saturday’s market said it was a breath of fresh air to be out.

“Absolutely,” said Danusia Urbanski, who operates Wild West Mushrooms.

“It’s fantastic.”

According to Cobble Hill farmer Cammy Lockwood, 75 per cent of her farm’s business has dried up in recent weeks, since much of what the farm produces from chickens to leeks was sold to restaurants that have now closed due to COVID-19.

Lockwood said her farm is now filled with foo, with no one to sell it to unless locals seek out local food in venues like farm markets.

“I have to say it’s hard to be out,” said Cammy Lockwood, “I have small children, a mother-in-law who is over 70,” she said.

The solution? Farmers markets are now going online.

In the Cowichan Valley, Cow-Op, is up and running and prepring to make its first deliveries.

In Nanaimo, Island Roots Market plans to have its virtual market online by Sunday night March 29th and the BC Farmers Markets’ many options will soon be available online on the BC Farmers Markets Trail.

“It provides food to people in their homes,” said Lockwood.

“And that’s really what we’re looking to do now,” she said.

Farmers are urging people to support local producers, to ensure they continue to be there going forward.

Skye Ryan