Missoula Leaders Want a Farmers Market, But it Must be “Safe”
Mayor John Engen and County Commissioner Josh Slotnick produce a video every day addressing various issues around COVID-19 in Missoula. Engen discussed the health officer’s order to keep personal care businesses closed at this time, even though the governor said they could open.
“How come I can go to the store, but I can’t get my hair cut?” Engen asked. “The challenge here is how to maintain social distancing in the really intimate setting of a salon. Our Health Officer Ellen Leahy, in consultation with her board, community leaders, experts in the field, and folks who are in the business of owning and operating salons, have told her they don’t know how to do this safely.”
In addition, Commissioner Slotnick addressed the issue that has left many people distressed, and that is the fact that there will be no farmers markets this spring.
“Both the mayor and I are committed to figuring out a way that we could do something that meets the goals of farmers market, but it is not going to look like what the farmers market traditionally looks like,” Slotnick said. “Efforts are ongoing to kind of crack this nut. How do we get food grown by our local farmers into the hands of our brothers and sisters here in Missoula who wants it and how do we do this in a safe way? Regular farmers market is not going to happen, but we are trying to figure out what can happen.”
Mayor Engen said government officials are trying to find a way for local farmers to sell their produce safely.
“The real meat of the farmers market is making sure those local producers have a market, an audience, and an ability to make a living,” Engen said. “The commissioner and I are committed to working with the health department to see what we can come up with. It won’t be fast, but we hope we can get there. We know that folks in the health department are absolutely sympathetic to the cause and would like to help us figure out a way to do this safely.”
Local growers have said they have no place to see their products and they face deep financial problems.