— Colleen Wolbeck, Crow River Food Council Member
Farmers Markets are going to look a lot different this year. Life looks a little different and I want to introduce the “New Normal” as we will be operating very differently for the 2020 season and beyond. The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association and the Minnesota Department of Health has set new guidelines for social distancing and safety during this Farmers Market season. This post will help guide market Managers, Vendors and Customers in possible changes to the market. Please be advised that each market will have different guidelines and your local market may be different.
With the new social distancing and keeping everyone safe, most markets are having handwashing stations at the entrance of every market to keep hands clean. Customers are distanced from vendors with an empty table so customers don’t touch merchandise. Customers will verbally tell the vendor what products they want and then it will be placed on the table to keep every transaction safe. Online orders and curbside and or drive thru will be available at some markets. Vendors are encouraged to have websites and a form of online orders to keep the process quick and contact to a minimum.
Markets will limit the number of entrances and the flow of traffic with arrows and exits. One customer will be allowed at a vendor at one time. Exact change or pre paying will be encouraged. Masks will be encouraged for all vendors and customers. We understand that it will be hot during the summer but hope that people will try to wear masks. Frequent sanitizing and limited contact between customers and vendors will be encouraged.
Many markets are rushing to get this New Normal up and running with limited resources or funding to get things started this year. In many counties you can contact the county public health and get funding from SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Partnership) to pay for COVID-19 improvements to markets. These items will include: distancing measures, handwashing stations and hand sanitizer. Markets looking for sanitizing products can go the website allhandsmn.org to order for the season.
Food sampling is now allowed for vendors, but samples are only allowed in pre-portioned cups as of June 26th 2020. We have found that people are really enjoying the Farmers Markets this year and there is an uptick in new customers. People are buying and buying a lot from vendors! Vendors are happy and while this is a different year, it is an exciting time for Farmers Markets! Happy Summer Everyone.