NELLYSFORD — Opening day at the Nelson Farmers Market Cooperative in Nellysford on Saturday was complete with clear, sunny skies and patrons eager for fresh produce, flowers and crafted goods.
Dennis Boone, the market’s manager, said vendors and patrons alike were excited by the market’s return for its 24th season.
Boone said the market adjusted its operations to comply with government regulations last spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as exploring a drive-thru option, requiring pre-orders, designating one-way walkways under the tent and requiring masks for patrons and vendors. Boone said this season, all vendors and patrons still are encouraged to wear masks, but many of the other restrictions have been eased.
Boone has been selling his wildlife and landscape photography and wooden furniture at the market for 15 years. Though he took over as the market’s manager this year, his booth still stands near the center entrance of the tent.
“The people really support this market,” Boone said. “Me as a vendor, I really have an interest in the market and its success, so I’m happy to be in this role.”
Hundreds of patrons visit the market each Saturday, Boone said, and near the summer holidays, traffic doubles.
About 30 vendors were set up at the market Saturday morning. Boone said during the 2020 season, the market averaged about 28 vendors each Saturday.
Heather Coiner, who owns Little Hat Creek Farm with her husband, Ben Stowe, said they adjusted their operations during the 2020 season, launching an online store and participating in mostly drive-thru markets, and they didn’t have the capacity to also participate in the Nelson market.
Coiner said Little Hat Creek Farm has been selling plants, vegetables and baked goods at the market since 2014. After taking the 2020 season off, Coiner said they were excited to be back this year.
“The demand for online ordering has cooled off and it seems like people no longer really need it,” she said. “Walk-up markets are back and I think people have figured out how to participate in them safely again.”
Foxie Morgan, owner of Pharsalia, said she woke up at about 2 a.m. Saturday and just couldn’t fall back asleep.
“I think I was just excited to get back out here,” Morgan said.
Morgan said Pharsalia has been selling freshly cut flowers at the market since about 1998, and while they made some adjustments last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they still came out in person.
“People were eager for flowers, and we’re seeing that again this year, too,” Morgan said, prepping another bouquet to replace the ones she just sold.
During the 2020 season, Morgan said Pharsalia saw a lot of online orders and had customers pick their orders up at the Saturday market, to cut down on browsing time. Now, she said, their online orders are decreasing as more people become vaccinated and feel safe attending outdoor events again.
Morgan said she already was starting to gear up for next weekend — “Mother’s Day is like Christmas for flowers,” she said.
The Nelson farmers market is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, May through October.