Mid-Michigan farmers' markets opening on time, but with changes
As the summer months approach and the farmers' market season begins in Mid-Michigan, it has become clear that there's going to be some changes given the current coronavirus pandemic. But most markets will still be open.
"A lot of markets in the area don't plan to change their opening date, or are only shifting it by a couple of weeks," said Emily Syrja of the Michigan Farmers Market Association.
The MIFMA gives recommendations to markets and farmers based on guidelines from state officials. "MIFMA has been out trying to stay up to date and in front of developments as they happen."
Kathie Dunbar, of the South Lansing Farmers' Market, says that while they're opening on their normally scheduled date of June 4, things at the market are going to look different. They'll have sanitizing stations and will require all vendors and customers to wear a mask, for at least the first month of operation.
"I know that there are some people who don't want to abide by that policy, but the vendors are going to wear them and the customers are going to wear them," Dunbar said.
The East Lansing Farmers' Market is opening on time too, but with certain restrictions, like no pets.
MIFMA is encouraging markets to limit the number of customers at one time, as they try to reduce social congregation. They are also suggesting card transactions instead of cash.
"Some consumers might see small waits that they're not used to, before they are permitted into the market," Syrja said.
At the Allen Farmers Market, they're already operating at their indoor facility. They'll soon move outside too, but market manager Julia Kramer says sales are up.
"People are looking for things that they can't find at the grocery store," Kramer said. "So particularly our meat and egg vendors are selling out of those things when they normally don't."
While farmers' markets may have been social gatherings before, touching items, or enjoying local entertainment may be on pause for now.
"We're going to limit the touching of the fruits," says Dunbar. "But I mean everybody likes to squeeze the melons and the tomatoes."
That's apples and oranges for now, as vendors try to get their products out safely.
"The farmers that I've spoken to are just really concerned with getting their products into consumers' hands and homes first and foremost," said Syrja