Changes to Farmers' Markets During the Pandemic
Last month, Governor Baker deemed farmers' markets essential food resources, and authorized them to open during the current COVID-19 health crisis. The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR) has developed guidelines for farmers' market operations to help market managers navigate the logistics of safely running a market during a pandemic.
What will farmers' markets look like this season?
Here's my guess: 1) There will be fewer vendors, and a greater focus on essential, nutritious foods, (bye-bye hard cider). 2) Shoppers will be counted and limited, so proper physical distancing can be maintained. 3) The purchasing process will be streamlined, with a push for pre-orders, easy, contact-free pick ups, and possibly a drive through shopping system. 4) Produce that has not been pre-purchased will be secured behind farmers, who will select and place items in recyclable paper or disposable plastic bags for shoppers. 5) Entertainment will be nixed because shoppers will be encouraged to move in and out, and not linger. 6) There will be more hired hands shopping for others. 7) More staff/volunteers will be needed to make sure markets run smoothly. 8) Of course there will be hand washing stations, an abundance of hand sanitizer, and, possibly requirements to wear face masks.
Will you visit farmers' markets this season during the pandemic? What policies/practices would you like to see instituted? What products are you looking for?