Rifle market goes online
2020 Rifle Farmers Market goes virtual with online marketplace due to COVID-19 guidelines
After several months of planning, the Rifle Farmers Market went live with its online marketplace this week for the first market of 2020.
Due to COVID-19 and the restrictions of Garfield County Health Department’s Order 156-43 the Farmers Market board decided to move to an online- only market this season.
“We have been brainstorming since March about what our market was going to look like, because the guidelines were so strict. We decided we would just go ahead with a virtual market,” board member Elissa Nye said. “Board members paid close attention to what other farmers markets across the state were doing — we are the only market in the valley that is doing just a virtual market.”
Patrons will be able to place their order online at riflefarmersmarket.com beginning Mondays at noon, and vendors will build their orders and drop them off with organizers for a Friday pickup.
The market, which was first organized by the Parks and Recreation Department back in 2007, has had several homes, including Heinze Park where they have held the market for the past three years.
Board member Helen Rodgers said they are going to be located at Rifle Middle School just across the street from the park.
“People will be able to pull into West Sixth Street and pick up their produce,” Rodgers said.
Organizers said that so far they have a half-dozen vendors committed to this year’s market, with Maria’s Farms from Palisade as their main produce supplier. The board hopes to add more licensed vendors, and any one interested can go to the market’s website for requirements and qualification.
“We would love to offer as much as we can on our online marketplace, we are open to pretty much anything this year,” Nye said.
Patrons will be able to place orders until Thursday at noon for each week’s pickup, scheduled from 5-7 p.m. for the next 12 weeks through Sept. 4.
New board member Joshua Bassett said that the online marketplace is a new and convenient way for people to support our local farmers.
“The focus this year is to provide our farms and farming community with a place to sell their goods,” Bassett said. “We are really focusing on our farmers, that is our mission.”
To order from the online marketplace go to riflefarmersmarket.com.
One of the traditions of the market will continue, as local musicians will entertain patrons, just in a new way.
“We kind of had to get creative. We did not want to not have the music, that’s the best part of the market, we think,” Nye said. “All the bands that were supposed to play at the market do get an opportunity to play, and they are getting paid.”
Rodgers said the farmers market received a grant from the Visitor Improvement Fund for $4,000 to help pay for the bands that will be streaming virtual concerts from the Ute Theater on Friday nights.
The New Ute Theatre Society is helping cover the cost of the theater and staff time, and KMTS is broadcasting the events along with the streaming on the farmers market, city of Rifle, and Ute’s Facebook pages.
Bassett said the exciting part about the musical component is before musicians were playing to 50, maybe 100 people max. During last Friday’s kickoff concert featuring Feeding Giants, 2,000 viewers tuned in for the session.
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