Emilie Thoueille

Emilie Thoueille of Organic Only, past-president of the Penticton Farmers Market, with bundles of colorful carrots

One of Penticton’s most popular weekly events will feature a radically different format for at least two months.

“After many hours of discussions between the Penticton Farmers' Market, the City of Penticton, vendors and customers, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our outdoor markets in April and May due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis,” the market said in a statement on social media Tuesday.

“In the coming days we will be launching an online platform for customers to order from our vendors and will be providing a drive-thru pick-up point for these orders. We hope to launch on this platform very soon and will begin operating the drive-thru pick-up Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Penticton Community Centre parking lot.

“This pick-up point will remain operational each Saturday until our regular outdoor market is able to resume.”

Market staff did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

Such virtual markets are being made possible in part by a $55,000 grant from the Agriculture Ministry’s Buy BC program to the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets.

The funding was announced March 27, the same day provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered farmers’ markets to only sell food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Downtown Penticton Association, which operates a companion Saturday community market, has delayed its opening until June 6.

Both markets cover three blocks of Main Street, plus parts of Front Street, at the height of the tourist season, which sees thick crowds of locals and tourist alike pick up everything from fresh produce and baking to collectibles and hot food.