Farmer's market vendor tips during COVID-19

Despite the hassles of COVID-19, outdoor farmer’s markets have done well in many areas of the country. Customers see them as a low-risk option for buying healthy food. Vendors can ensure safe access to food while helping prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Janie Maxwell is the executive director of the Illinois Farmer’s Market Association. She says vendors need to communicate with customers, so they know what the expectations are.

"Of course, masks are required. All practices must support social distancing, so you think about that, well what does that mean? It means how far tables are placed apart, it means how lines are maintained, maybe it means counting the number of people within a space to make sure that capacity limits are not exceeded," says Maxwell. "So, clear signage, clear expectations, clear communication."

Some farmer’s market managers may require their vendors to have a wellness policy for their business. That could include taking everyone’s temperature the day of the market. Have hand sanitizer or a hand washing station in the booth. And don’t forget to put up some kind of barrier to protect yourself from the customers.

"I know sometimes vendors don’t look at it that way, but you need to keep yourself safe. So again, hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting common spaces, and then it’s also recommended that you limit the shoppers’ capacity to handle your products," she says. "Instead that might be something you would do for them, actually provide more of what we now call the “concierge service” at the farmer’s market."

As situations change, so can the regulations. Stay in touch with health officials, and the farmer’s market manager to make sure everything you’re doing is current.