The Trumansburg Farmers’ Market kicked off the season with a typically healthy showing on May 6, though aesthetically there were some noticeable changes to the event.
Lines were spray painted in front of vendor booths to keep waiting customers six feet away. Produce was packaged in plastic bags. Tables and benches were removed, and there live music was not being played.
Those were a few of the several procedures set in place to maintain a safe, healthy environment for vendors and patrons during the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite the cosmetic and atmospheric alterations, vendors, such as Margaret Sheppard, who is also a member of the market’s board and helped draft the list of protocols, were pleased with the turnout last Wednesday.
“Things have gone actually better than expected,” Sheppard said. “Vendors and customers have been very respectful to one another, and the general mood has been pretty easy going.”
Sheppard and John Henderson run Sage Hen Farm in Lodi, NY and have been selling their produce at the market for 14 years.
“Ordinarily we have a lot of herbs that people, when they’re unpackaged, they can smell them and see the textures,” Sheppard said. “It’s quite different. Everything is in plastic [bags], but it’s necessary.”
In past years, they would have multiple tables set up, with one solely devoted to their garlic. However, this year there is no such table in order to prevent people from picking up the garlic, smelling it and possibly putting back down on the table.
“We would have a big display of garlic and now that the garlics are in brown paper bags, it doesn’t quite have the appeal,” Henderson said. “But we can still have people look at our eggs, which are brighter colors from other people’s around.”
Regardless of how they were forced to set up shop, Henderson and Sheppard nearly sold out the inventory that they brought.
Meghan Tauck of Wixom Farm, located in Mecklenburg, NY, said the preparation process of the farm's goods to be sold at the market did not have to change too much because of the virus.
“For us, it’s not much different because the meat is all pre-packaged and frozen, and it’s been like that since last summer when we process our animals,” Tauck said. “So it’s decontaminated just by the nature of that. We’re not doing any vegetables or fruits, so we didn’t have to deal with pre-bagging.”
Tauck, along with all of the vendors, wore a face mask and pair of gloves to not only protect themselves from catching the virus, but also protect their constituents when handing them their purchases.
“I also saw Wide Awake Bakery here and, because they have so much stuff on display that’s out and open, they put up a plexiglass shield, which is new for them,” she said. “I wiped everything down, like I wiped the table down and I wiped all the bottles down with a spray. … I spray my hands down after touching the money.”
Overall, she thought the protocols established before the opening are not only functioning well, but they are also being adhered to by everyone at the market.
“The fact that we’re out in the open air, separated from one another, people have been really respectful about not touching things that they’re not going to buy and not coming up too close when they’re getting their products,” she said.
As of now, prepared foods and food trucks are not permitted to sell at the market, though Sheppard said prepared food will return sometime in early June.
“There will definitely be prepared food, but we will probably not have people eating on the premises,” she said. “It will just be a takeaway.”
“It’s sad because we had new benches made. They may have to remain off-limits, but we’ll see.”