COVID-19, Social Distancing and Farmers Markets; Markets Need the Public’s Help
COVID-19 has people rethinking and adjusting just about every normal day-to-day activity, even a simple trip to shop for groceries. With farmers markets helping consumers find locally grown fresh produce, meats and cheeses, the public is being asked to maintain strict social distancing recommendations while shopping at the markets.
“We need the public’s help in keeping these vital community resources open and serving the public, and shoppers can help by focusing on social distancing when you are at the market,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Farmers markets are a great option for locating fresh food items and supporting our farmers, but we need market shoppers to observe the CDC and public health’s recommendations of 6 feet of spacing between each other, frequent and thorough handwashing and staying home if you do not feel well.
“We know people love strolling through the market and browsing the stands, but as we deal with this unprecedented pandemic, shopping needs to be treated as an essential activity and not a social one,” Troxler said.
Tips for shopping at farmers markets during this time of restricted movement:
- Plan to shop on a lower-traffic day and not the weekends. There is a good selection of seasonal items throughout the week. Fewer people shopping helps increases the distance between people.
- Come to the market with a purpose. Bring a shopping list to be sure you get what you need.
- If your favorite vendor offers curbside service, make use of this service. Curbside pick-up reduces foot traffic at the market and contact with others.
- Don’t hang out at a stand after your purchase. This opens up space for the next shopper.
- Designate a shopper for your family and do not bring everyone to the market. Once this pandemic is under control, we will look forward to activities returning to normal. Right now, shopping should be viewed as a necessity.
- Be mindful and courteous of other shoppers. Keep your distance while waiting to make a purchase. Remember, six feet is equal to two yard sticks lined up end to end.
There are four state-operated farmers markets, including the State Farmers Market in Raleigh, the Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax, the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville and the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market.
“If there is one thing we have learned so far from dealing with this outbreak, it’s that we have to be adaptive and flexible,” Troxler said. “We will continue to evaluate our farmers market operations to meet the restrictions in place.”