The crunch of a fresh ear of corn and the tang of a ripe strawberry are two summer staples that haven’t changed in the coronavirus pandemic – and they can still be found fresh out of the field at Michigan’s farmers markets. While markets have adjusted operations to protect the safety of vendors and customers, the joys of seasonal produce and local food can still be had across the state. In Traverse City, there’s a new option at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market: Wednesdays are open to online ordering only, said Nick Viox, market manager. Customers select their produce online and choose a pickup time, and then vendors prepare the orders on site. “We’re a growers-focused market,” Viox said.
In-person shopping is still available at the Saturday market. Vendors are required to wear masks, and customers are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings as well. The Michigan Farmers Market Association has compiled a guidance document for market managers to follow that considers all of the state government executive orders and best practices from health officials. Some of the changes this year include eliminating non-essential areas and activities, like music or children’s activities, as well as no taste-testing or cooking demonstrations. Review the entire document online here. Some markets may have special hours for seniors, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women – like the Holland Farmers Market, where the first hour from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday is reserved for such groups. The Holland Farmers Market has additional precautions in place, including limiting the entry points to the market so staff can count the number of visiting customers. Some vendors there may offer online pre-orders as well. The Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids is open for the summer season as usual – but is also restricting entry and exit points so staff can count the number of people in the market and keep it to the capacity limit of 168 people. Additionally, the market is asking shoppers to consider sending only one member of their family to the market to decrease crowd sizes. Shoppers at farmers markets in Michigan can expect to see more cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces at vendors’ booths, as well as handwashing or hand sanitizing stations throughout the market. As always, customers who are sick are advised not to shop at the market – and the use of face coverings is strongly encouraged. More from MIBluesPerspectives.com: