Opinion: Hunkering Down and Looking Ahead

Opinion: Hunkering Down and Looking Ahead

Dear reader, I sincerely hope all is well with you and yours as we ride out this shutdown so essential to flattening the curve and restoring some semblance of normalcy. To date our family and friends are in good health and getting by. We do miss closer contact with grandchildren, other family members, and friends.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the non-stop Coronavirus news with the soaring illness and fatality totals. Then there’s the insensitive, narcissistic incompetent at the center whose missteps are resulting in immense suffering and avoidable deaths. Not to mention the millions of jobs lost. I can easily imagine our being in a very different place with, for example, a Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or a Mitt Romney in the Oval Office. If we are to survive this, the country will have to look to the many competent governors, local officials to lead.

As we carefully walk in the Lake Anne neighborhood, we see both hope and sadness. For example, three younger neighbors have asked us 70-somethings if they could shop for us, or help in any other way. Most Lake Anne Plaza’s family-owned small businesses are in dire straits, having had to close their doors. A couple, however, have adapted creatively. The Lake Anne Brew House called on its wait staff to put their microbrews in pop-top cans which they now sell carryout! We’ve sampled the beer. It's good! New Trail Cycling’s owner decided to rent out most of her stationary bikes and now gives online cycling classes to the renters! We are honoring the shut-down. Our first order of business was to stock up latex gloves, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, bleach, and toilet paper. Now we walk our Scottie around the area twice a day, go to Trader Joes about twice a week, and, for a real treat, we go to a Starbucks’ drive-thru in Herndon. The walk and occasional calisthenics are all we have for exercise. We miss our fitness club!

We had hoped that the beginning of the Reston Farmers Market season on April 25 would be the light at the end of our tunnel. Gov. Northam has put a dimmer on that glow. On March 23, he issued Executive Order #53 which, among other things, designates farmers markets as restaurant equivalents, thus tagged as nonessential during the shutdown. If he’d decided farmers markets were more like grocery stores, they would be essential and open under the social distancing rules applicable to groceries. The latter would be entirely feasible.

Now the Secretary of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has issued a directive refining Order #53 to allow farmers markets to provide delivery and/or takeout services only—no stands or market per se. This, too, assumes a restaurant-like organization working thru websites for online ordering or creating a “menu” of products with a phone number to call. Worst case, they suggest an “onsite process for taking orders (with no “browsing vendor to vendor”) and curbside pickup” by customers. It's not yet clear how this warehouse process would work in the real world of over thirty small producers scattered within 125 miles from Va., Md., WVa. and Pa. A skeleton staff of the Fairfax County Park Authority is working hard to organize the operations with a couple of stalwart volunteers running the distribution center. Who knows—we may have to reach out to you, dear readers, to volunteer with us for whatever period of time needed for this jury-rigged emergency operation! In the meantime, our Reston Farmers Market vendors who sell fruits and vegetables have planted their crops and will start picking them in a couple of weeks. Other vendors already have goods to sell. We’d like to help them even before the Market, such as it is, opens. Please go to our website, www.restonfarmersmarket.com, click on the vendors page, then click on your favorite vendors’ names to see if they have websites, and contact them to make your order and arrange delivery. Your reaching out will be greatly appreciated.

See the Reston Farmers Market Facebook page for updates in the weeks ahead.

BULLETIN: Loudoun County farmers markets will open under strict social distancing guidelines. Fairfax County is not likely to allow markets to open.