Area farmers' markets modify format for spring openings

 

Barbara Bigelow

Barbara Bigelow

 

Katherine Lucas

Katherine Lucas

 

Paige Watson

Paige Watson

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

In spite of the novel coronavirus, Mother Nature's timetable is yielding harvests of produce and fruits popular at spring farmers' markets. Golden Triangle markets are opening with modified formats that balance community health measures with supporting growers and providing the public with fresh foods.

 

"It is important that we support our local agriculture and the benefits of eating healthy while still maintaining safe practices and social distancing until further recommendations are given," said Barbara Bigelow, executive director of Main Street Columbus, which oversees the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market at Second Street and Second Avenue North.

 

 

 

Hitching Lot

 

In Columbus, the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market will open Saturday, May 9 from 7 a.m.-10 a.m. For the present, only produce, baked goods and value-added canned items will be available. Safety precautions include:

 

  • Customers must provide and wear gloves and masks at all times. Vendors, spaced 10 feet apart, will also wear gloves and masks.

     

  • Customers will not be allowed to touch products and must keep a distance of at least 6 feet from each other.

     

  • Only one person from a household should shop; no children or pets will be permitted.

     

  • Customers must be prepared to "shop and go," without socializing. Public restrooms will not be available until restrictions are lifted.

     

    Beginning May 9, the market will be open Saturdays and Thursdays 7 a.m.-10 a.m., and Mondays 4-6 p.m.

     

    "We understand this is not the most convenient form of Farmers' Market shopping, and we hope the market will not need to operate in this manner for long," said Bigelow. "We'll return to normal operation as soon as possible. We will strive to support the community and our producers the best way we can until we can return to regular operation."

     

    Market Coordinator Katherine Lucas added, "We have some exciting activities lined up for this summer, and we are just as ready as our vendors and customers to have our market operate as normal."

     

    Current plans are for the market's monthly Sizzling Second Saturdays, with added activities, to begin in June.

     

    For more information, follow the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market on Facebook, or contact Main Street Columbus at [email protected], or 662-328-6305.

     

     

    Starkville Community Market

     

    Starkville Main Street Association and the Starkville Community Market Advisory Board opened that city's farmers' market Saturday with social distancing modifications in place. The market at Fire Station Park, at Lampkin and Russell Streets, will be open Saturdays 8 a.m.-11 a.m.

     

    "We're calling it a modified market, offering produce and cottage food vendors (items) only," said Market Manager Paige Watson, special events and projects coordinator with The Greater Starkville Partnership. "Hopefully, if all goes well, the modifications can become more lenient as we progress throughout the summer."

     

    Current guidelines include:

     

  • Gloves and masks will be required for entry. A limited supply of gloves will be available at the entrance; masks will not be provided. Vendors will be spaced about 10 feet apart.

     

  • Shoppers are not allowed to touch produce or products. Vendors limit contact with customers by pre-bagging foods.

     

  • Only 10 customers are allowed in the market at any given time. One person per household should shop; no families or other small groups will be allowed. Shoppers must remain at least 6 feet apart. No socializing or loitering is allowed.

     

  • Vendors who allow pre-sales or ordering online at the Starkville Community Market website, starkvillecommunitymarket.org, are encouraged. Otherwise, small bills, exact change and credit cards are preferred.

     

    Watson encouraged shoppers to follow the market on Facebook, Instagram and the website to see each week's vendors.

     

    For additional information, contact Watson at [email protected], or 662-323-3322.

     

    The West Point Farmers' Market traditionally opens in June. According to Lisa Klutts of the West Point/Clay County Community Growth Alliance, any modifications will be determined nearer to opening, based on health parameters at that time.

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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