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Farmers back to business with San Diego farmers markets now considered essential

Many local markets were closed but after implementing coronavirus-related safety changes are back open and considered equal to grocery stores.

Some San Diego farmers markets are re-opening but with new coronavirus-related restrictions. Farmers are pleased that the markets are now considered essential in the same way grocery stores are as this gives them back their livelihood.

Carlos Rodriguez said he is back in his element. As a fifth-generation farmer for his family’s business J.R. Organics, the La Jolla Farmers Market is where he feels at home. He said he's been going there for a very long time.

“Since day one - 21 years probably,” he said.

Looking around the market Sunday, it was pretty easy to tell is hasn’t been business as usual. Rodriguez was wearing a mask and gloves. Of the customers, almost everyone was also wearing a mask - a key sign the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing.

“This is something out of this world,” Rodriguez said.

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Like many businesses, his farm was hit hard by the coronavirus when many of the farmers markets in San Diego County had to close for several weeks.

Some markets have since reopened after being deemed essential businesses by the Department of Environment Health.

Now the market is filled with hand-washing stations and they enforce social distancing.

“At first, it really scared us because we didn’t know what we were going to do as farmers," said Licha Williams. 

Her family, who owns Rodney Kawano Farms, has also been selling at the market for years.

“For us, it was really hard. Like we need to keep it going. They worked hard and they got us back and so it’s awesome we’re back here again,” she said.

Many vendors like Rodriguez, had to come up with innovative ideas to get their products to customers.

He turned to social media and mini pop-ups, which helped them stay afloat during the shutdowns.

Now with things slowly returning to normal, Rodriguez is just glad to be back doing what he loves, providing the quality organics his family is known for.

“Nobody even thought something like this would ever happen - nobody," he said. "We just gotta go with it and everybody be careful and hopefully we can beat this virus”

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