Last year we decided to cancel our spot at the farmers market due to Covid precautions and an oversubscribed CSA. This year we will have our booth again, and I am wondering what modifications we should be planning given that Covid is still a factor. The market we are part of has done a lot of layout changes to give vendors more space, but pre-orders are not required or particularly encouraged.
We will certainly be wearing masks and pre-bagging most (all?) of our items. Are there other things people have found kept you safe/gained your customers' trust/made things easier? Payment changes? Booth design changes? Staffing changes? Even small details like where you stand in relation to the customer or Covid-related problems you had to solve as last year's market season unfolded would be helpful.
*Clearly dictate how you want people to behave/shop. Do this with bold, large signage, as well as clear communication.
Bag or bunch as much as possible to streamline options.
Offer pre-order/weekly special bags...these can be prepaid and set aside so people don't have to wait in line to pick them up.
Use venmo, pay pal, crypto, and/or square readers to move customers out quickly and not have to deal with cash.
*Last year we attended our two farmers’ markets all year and made some changes to our normal setup. We had a 20’ stall plus a small table to the side for the money. Needed 4 people to run it but could do it with three if we had to.
One person handling money, all money received went into a box and then fresh change was given back, so we never touched money, which a lot of people liked.
One person stocking the table behind the table.
Two people up front with two lines in, two lines out. We had a rope 5 feet in front of table so customers couldn’t handle produce, though it definitely was harder for customers to get exactly what they wanted. The less options for sizes, colors, etc. the better. We had exact change buckets at our in/out lines as well if the money line got too long. We wore gloves and masks though stopped gloves in October.
It was definitely a big change from our regular setup but customers really appreciated it and loved how much we did to keep them and us safe.
*The best thing we did was have a station were we placed the bagged items. Then we stepped away and they took there bags. We had a small bucket of disinfectant in water so we could wipe down between customers.
Our pay area was on the opposite side of the booth so there was no congestion.
We created shelves that had examples of what we had in front so people could see with a sign don’t touch them. With everything in back that you put together for them.
If your interested in doing something like that I am sure you can find some cute props to make it attractive like a bunch of comming out of a small burlap bag for instance or comming out of a mason jar To show of the greens.
Hope this helps.
*Important question and we appreciate the outreach through this listserv. The following email was recently posted on the VT Farmers Market Association list serv and will hopefully be helpful to this group as well
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets does not anticipate adding additional specialized guidance for farmers markets beyond the universal guidance that went into place April 9th for all Sector A businesses. It will be each market’s responsibility to develop strategies related to their own circumstances to achieve the requirements of the universal guidance (i.e. a way to manage capacity to ensure 6ft spacing/physical distancing; providing access to handwashing/hand sanitizer to ensure hygiene). The Universal Guidance serves as a baseline. Any business, organization, or operator is free to take additional safety precautions for the health and safety of its employees and consumers.
As of the most recent Phased Reopening Plan, by July 4th, the requirement to follow universal guidance, mask & physical distancing requirements will all become “recommended” with no capacity restrictions for gatherings and events. The universal guidance requirements and phased reopening plan can change at any time, based on public health and safety needs.
Vermont Forward: Roadmap to Reopening
On April 6, 2021, Governor Phil Scott released a reopening guide to help Vermonters and local businesses see the path for a phased return to unrestricted travel, business operations, and event gatherings. The transition from sector specific guidance to Universal Guidance will happen in two phases. Group A Sectors (Low contact, short duration, outdoor and controlled environments), includes farmers markets. Effective April 9, 2021, the following is the universal guidance that all businesses, organizations, and operators must follow.
- Stay home if sick. Organizations must have policies in place to remind employees to stay home if they have signs and symptoms of COVID-19. No symptomatic or COVID-19 positive workers are allowed on site. Unvaccinated employees who have not had COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have had close contact for more than 15 minutes with any person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days or for 7 days prior to obtaining a COVID-19 test. See the Department of Health’s guidance for more information on work place exposures.
- Wear a mask. The State of Vermont currently has a mask mandate in place. All employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in the presence of others. In the case of retail cashiers, a translucent shield or “sneeze guard” is acceptable in lieu of a mask if the employee works alone and does not interact with customers outside the workstation. Businesses, non-profit and government entities may decline service to individuals who are not wearing a mask. This includes refusing service to those who are exempt from the mask mandate, however, the business shall provide an alternate way for those unable to wear a mask to access the business, such as offering curbside pick-up, delivery, or other innovative solutions.
- Ensure six-foot spaces and uncrowded places. Employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on the job. Businesses and non-profit or government entities must ensure customers observe strict social distancing of 6 feet while on location, to the extent possible. Employers are encouraged to use their best efforts to accommodate those workers who may have childcare needs which cannot be met due to the closure of schools or childcare facilities for reasons relating to COVID-19.
- Practice good hygiene. Employees must have easy and frequent access to soap and water or hand sanitizer during the duration of work, and handwashing or hand sanitization is required frequently including before entering, and leaving, job sites. All common spaces (when open) and equipment, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces and doors, tools and equipment, and vehicles must be cleaned regularly and, when possible, prior to transfer from one person to another, in accordance with CDC guidance.
- Think before you travel. Follow the state’s travel guidance and educate your employees and customers about the state’s policies. Guests of lodging, campgrounds and other accommodations must complete a Certificate of Compliance.
Any questions should continue to be sent to the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets covid-response email: [log in to unmask]
Diversified produce and meat farm. Community Supported Agriculture.