One spring tradition will happen despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because they provide tantalizing local foods, five area farmers’ markets will open in the next month or so. Batesville’s operation is the earliest with sales starting last Saturday.
Main Street Greensburg Executive Director Susan Burkhart said, “We thought it would be in the best interests of our vendors and community” to open a month later than usual, Friday, June 5. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, “we’re actually moving the farmers market (from downtown) to the Decatur County Fairgrounds.”
“I talked to all the commissioners and health department and (farmers’ market) board. We think it’s best at this time to do a drive-thru. The Decatur County Fairgrounds Board has been so helpful and understanding and wanting to help host this event for us.” She points out the fairgrounds has electricity for vendors with frozen meats.
Exact procedures are still being ironed out. The executive director expects customers will enter at a specific spot and drive one way around the commercial building. Two persons will be at each booth, one to collect money and the other to handle food. “We want as little contact” as possible.
Burkhart adds, “We’re starting out at the fairgrounds, but it doesn’t mean it will stay there.”
Procedures elsewhere will be quite different as well.
Social distancing (6 feet) between each vendor and between shoppers will be enforced. Shoppers and vendors who are symptomatic or are in a quarantine period will not be admitted.
Customers may not touch vendors’ products. She warns, “If you touch it, you buy it.” Only one family member at the market is recommended.
Ludwig says, “We would like to thank everyone for their support of our local farmers. We are in this together.”
Main Street Versailles Market on the Square market master Holly Wehr Harley has been in communication with RCHD, too, and will follow the protocols they recommend. Social distancing will be enforced at the O-So-Good Farmers Market, Osgood. Bright Farmers Market organizer Linda Johnson promises, “As this is a crazy year, we will follow whatever rules are set by the state and local governments.”
Leaders of one site are on the fence about opening. Darlene Kohlsdorf, one of several Brookville Farmers Market organizers, explains, “We decided we’re going to hold off until July. We’re going to reassess the situation and see how the virus is doing and what kind of produce we have available.”
What can shoppers expect to find when markets first open? The Batesville market master answers, “Our vendors will have lettuce, kale, spinach, green onions, herbs, honey, baked goods, meat and pork available.” When the Bright Farmers Market opens May 29, Johnson predicts eggs, jams, plants, soaps, baked goods and maybe early produce will be offered.
“Because we’re in Indiana, produce won’t be plentiful at the opening of the (Versailles) market,” observes Harley. “We’ll definitely have eggs, beef, chicken, pork, maple syrup and possibly some herbs or greens, but locally-grown tomatoes, corn and other produce won’t come in strong until the middle of the summer.”
The O-So-Good Farmers Market, sponsored by the town of Osgood, will open June 6 “if produce is available,” says coordinator Jodi Comer. “We hope the Tin Can Market will be on site a few times this summer.” That’s when kids get in the act of not only offering goods, but also their services (pet sitting, anyone?).
There are some changes. In Batesville, “you’ll experience several new vendors offering fresh cut flowers and produce. A curbside drive-thru is currently in the works and hopefully will begin to open up in the next few weeks after the market starts,” according to Ludwig. A new website features upcoming events, recipes and a vendor list with websites and contact information.
In addition to welcoming a few new producers, the Versailles market is moving to the opposite side of the courthouse “to be a bridge between our two main retail businesses on the square, G.H. Coffee Shop and Pat’s Bulk Food.” If state pandemic orders allow, there will be $5 workout classes, a Kids Market and two Retail Markets, according to its website.
The disadvantaged get help at one location. The Greensburg market can process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) vouchers and some sellers accept WIC (Women, Infants, Children) vouchers.
Batesville vendors will pay a $20 weekly rate or $100 for a reserved space for the entire six-month season.
Bright vendors are charged $20 for the season, $5 per month or $2 per week, according to Johnson. She adds, “We need produce vendors. Any farmer or backyard gardener who has fresh local produce would be welcomed.”
Greensburg’s registration fee is $25 for the season. Spaces cost $2 per linear foot.
Setup is free in Versailles and Osgood.