Let Aspen farmers market include artisans | AspenTimes.com

Let Aspen farmers market include artisans

The Aspen Saturday Farmers Market has reduced its scale and amped up safety precautions for social distancing, crowd management, protocols for in-person shopping, preordering from vendors, sanitization and PPE. As a loyal patron of this market, I consider it a highlight of Aspen’s summer and fall seasons.

Historically, this open-air market has supported local farmers and local artisans and provided the opportunity to purchase beautiful produce, meats, flowers and unique wares. This pandemic devastated Aspen’s local economy on all fronts. Fortunately, Aspen’s incredible restaurants are opening (indoor and extended patio dining) and enclosed retail stores are open for business, all under safety measures. Enclosed grocery stores have and continue to remain open.

In any difficult period, art sadly takes the lowest priority. It would be a shame for long-standing local artisans of this market to be forgotten and suffer another blow related to the pandemic. Supporting our local farm and artisan vendors is critical in this time.

The Colorado Farmers Market Association (CFMA) recommendations do not strictly prohibit artisan participation in the markets but allow markets to limit artisan vendors. The CFMA reasons that artisans encourage shoppers to “linger” at their booths more than farm vendors, which may cause health-safety issues. This rationale is arbitrary and unsupported. Moreover, it is a recommendation, not a requirement. Artisan vendors may follow the same safety precautions including PPE, money-handling, sanitization, preorder options, etc., as farm vendors at no extra cost. Excluding local artisans at this market will not reduce the risks of COVID-19 but rather increase financial injury to our beloved local artisans. I urge all who enjoy the Aspen Saturday Market to contact the city and advocate the inclusion of our talented artisans in this year’s market. Today more than ever, I hope that Aspen maintains its support of local artisans.

Polly Dunn

Corpus Christi, Texas