CSUN’s farmers market is closed; its vendors are adapting

Samantha Bravo, Assistant Campus Editor

Oono Sushi in Encino relied on farmers markets for business. Since the stay-at-home orders were implemented, they have lost 90% of their income.

While farmers markets have been shutting down, restaurants nationwide have been struggling to stay open. Vendors, sellers and business owners have switched to social media platforms to sell their products.

“We’re just trying to survive because our business was mostly at the farmers market and they shut them down completely,” owner of Oono Sushi Kevin Soe said. “So now I’m just doing pickup or delivery through Instagram or Facebook.”

Previously held every Tuesday, and organized by Associated Students, the farmers market provided students and the community with fresh produce, sweets and nuts from 15 vendors all conveniently on campus.

Soe said the pandemic has taken a toll on his business, making about six to seven orders a day and not able to sell food outside their business.

“We miss it because CSUN was our best market,” Soe said. “It was our neighborhood.”

Oono Sushi is offering 15% off to CSUN students.

“Support all the farmers markets in (your) neighborhoods, we’re getting hit really hard right now,” Soe said.

To curb the spread of COVID-19, all events at CSUN, including the farmers market, have either been postponed or canceled until further notice.

AS Production Producer Naurice Minor said the university is unsure when they are able to operate again; however, he suggested students can support local businesses while prioritizing their safety.

“Unfortunately, we can’t do it as a university right now as the University is closed and it’s not really our decision on when it opens, we have to wait for when the World Health Organization and LA County Health will let us know when it would be safe,” Minor said. “When campus will resume and even then, I’m not sure when large gatherings will be approved once more.”

Most restaurants have relied on food delivery platforms such as GrubHub, DoorDash and UberEats for business. Minor suggests local businesses use these platforms to get food to customers safely and maintain social distance.

“I would say it could be possible maybe for us to advertise and promote those vendors like we did at the farmers market, but to do so in a manner which encourages students to go and order them from those platforms,” Minor said.

Boule de Pain, an artisanal French bakery based in the San Fernando Valley, has been selling their products of pastries, sweets and baked goods at farmers markets around Los Angeles including Beverly Hills, Melrose Avenue, Hermosa Beach and at CSUN’s farmers market.

Since the closures, they began promoting their delivery option on social media and have offered free delivery with a $40 minimum order.

On March 15, Boule de Pain announced that they will deliver orders while following social distancing guidelines.

“There will be no contact with our driver. Once he leaves the delivery in front of your door, he will give you a call,” the post says.

King of Kettle Corn owner Luis Pacheco said they’ve only been making fruit cups and corn since the closure of the farmers market.

“We’re not doing funnel cakes right now and we’re doing free delivery for minimum orders of $30,” Pacheco said. “Right now it’s very slow, but we’re still going.”

King of Kettle Corn can be reached at 626-662-3239.

Bakery Dolce Manachelli have shifted to curbside pickup of carrot, chocolate and gluten-free bundt cakes.

“Due to temporary market, university, festival closures, related to COVID-19, we are offering curbside pickup at our baking facility in Fullerton. Call to schedule pick up,” their website states. “Thank you for supporting small businesses during this time!”

To order from Dolce Manachelli, call 714-519-3648 or email info@dolcemonachellis.com.

Delmy’s Pupusas in Glendale closed temporarily on April 5 due to COVID-19, prioritizing the health and safety of its employees and customers.

“We appreciate our customers’ love and support and we are very saddened by this decision. We hope to re-open on Sunday April 26th,” the post says. “Please text (626) 755-1411 to place your order. P.S you can freeze your pupusas for up to a month!”

Although CSUN’s farmers market has struggled to connect with the CSUN community as it once had, local food pantries have become a necessary resource for students and families.

Last week, the CSUN food pantry displayed their items outside Laurel Hall and people were able to choose the items they needed while maintaining social distance. The food pantry is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Local food pantries have also been providing the community with fresh and free produce while implementing drive thru pick up at most locations.

While restaurants’ kitchens are closed, their doors to helping customers are open. Some restaurants have switched to functioning as a marketplace for their communities by providing groceries, produce and offering curbside pick up.

Malibu Farmers Market remains open every Sunday. They’ve implemented safety protocols like spacing tents eight feet apart and installing washing stations. To prevent close interaction, six feet of social distance was enforced and customers were not allowed to handle or touch any products themselves.

A widely-known marketplace making similar changes is the Original Farmers Market in LA. While it is currently open seven days a week, customers and employees must wear a face mask or coverings while in the businesses. Many merchants offer curbside pick-up and advanced place order, as well as take out meals and postal services.

A list of the CSUN farmers market vendors can be found here.