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Masking Up to Connect with our Communities: Insights from the Farmer’s Market

Masking Up to Connect with our Communities: Insights from the Farmer’s Market

By Ruthie Boyd, Public Health Marketing Coordinator VISTA

Every Friday at the intersection of Oak and Pacific, the Telluride Farmer’s Market turns this usually quiet street into a bustling hub of community activity.

On Wednesdays at Heritage Plaza in Mountain Village, Market on the Plaza brings together vendors, artisans, visitors, and the local community to share goods, foods, and live music.

And on Fridays in Ridgway, local farmers and eager residents build rapport over fresh grown Colorado peaches, home-stitched masks and hand- crafted goods.

Here at TCHNetwork, we feel fortunate that we’ve been able to mask up and to attend all three markets this summer. In COVID times, such community- centered events are hard to come by, and we are thankful for the opportunity that we’ve had at each market to connect with our community. While other farmer’s market vendors sell their goods, we share our mission: to collaborate with our communities to improve health for everyone. Alongside small bottles of hand sanitizer, packs of disinfectant wipes, chapstick, water bottles, and email sign- ups, visitors to our booth receive useful information—information that we hope will help answer any questions they may have and reassure them that there are tangible answers to the challenges they may be facing.

Though our intent to spread awareness about the services we provide differs from the mission of many of the vendors at these markets, our mutual connection to community, locally produced goods, and our organizational goals remains evident. While we aren’t selling delicious Pad Thai like Wok of Joy, fresh grown Veggies like High Stoke Farm, hand-crafted jewelry like Moonbear Jewels, or any other eye catching good, each of these assorted vendors has a connection to make with farmer’s market goers, and each one of these connections links back to how each of us—in our own way—cares for, communicates with, and advocates for our locally crafted economy and the people who propel it forward.

This support of our community and its economy through an event focused on food, fun, craft, and wellbeing directly links back to the stability of public health in our region. At the farmer’s market, there are safe, socially distant opportunities to see friends who have become distant in recent months, delicious ways to support local farmers while buying fresh veggies to maintain your health, and plenty of chances to find locally made, exciting gifts for yourself or a loved one.

In our own way, TCHNetwork is integrated into this system of support: we act as a visible, tangible resource for market-goers who may be struggling and who may not know of the many resources we can help to connect them with. At the market, nothing is more rewarding than when someone approaches our table with a question, and we have an answer and a set of resources to direct them towards: whether it be food assistance, insurance enrollment, or teletherapy services.

In many ways, our presence at the Farmer’s Markets in the area represents the emphasis we place on making it easy, accessible, and comfortable for community members to reach out to us. Market goers can see that among the fresh food and artisan goods, the resources they need and might not have known how to access are right there in front of them: in a tall, white tent decorated with fun giveaways and a VISTA member eager to help. During a time in the world when it’s all to easy to retract inwards, it is particularly important to extend a hand out to our community. Even in these turbulent times, know that TCHNetwork is here to help you.

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