ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we’re talking to farmers market managers who have worked hard to keep markets safe and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leslie Logemann is market manager at Transylvania Farmers’ Market in Brevard.
What have been some of the biggest changes in the way the market works?
Saturday, April 18th, was the sixth week our market has had measures in place and it looks like it may continue for some time. We are currently operating with food and agriculture vendors only. We’ve reconfigured to have just two entrances/exits and customers are asked to travel the market clockwise as they shop with a single row of spaced vendors. We have a hand washing area and sanitizing stations throughout the market. Our vendors and staff are masked and wearing gloves, and customers are asked not to touch any products. Many of our vendors have moved to contact-less transactions. We’ve also added curbside shopping where customers can pull up and pick up prepaid orders or have a market employee shop for them.
Why is shopping at farmers markets important, especially now?
Simply, farmers markets are essential. Fresh local food that supports local farmers and businesses couldn’t be more important right now.
What is the mood around market these days? Are customers and vendors apprehensive? Happy to be outside? Grateful for some interaction even if at a distance?
There is definitely apprehension and anxiety as we navigate these unprecedented times. I think we’re all learning to take this one day at a time, one week at a time, and tackle challenges as they arise. As a control freak, I am definitely learning some life lessons, haha. But jokes aside, I’ve also seen so much beauty and support during this time. Customers supporting vendors by not only purchasing but by offering kind words, encouragement, written notes, and even donations. Vendors watching out for each other and vendors who are offering free delivery to make sure customers have what they need if they don’t feel comfortable leaving the house. For the customers who come to market, we are getting a lot of comments about everyone being happy to be outside and we are also hearing a lot of thank yous. Those keep us going.
What do you think farmers markets need most right now to stay safe and successful?
Support, compassion, compliance, and patience. Some of our vendors aren’t as tech-savvy as others so they may not have as many options for accepting payment. Some vendors have family members with compromised immune systems so they may be away from market right now. Some vendors are selling out quickly. It’s a challenging time. We hope customers will be patient with us while we figure this all out.