The May 24 weekend is the traditional grand opening for many farmers’ markets but nothing is normal in 2020. Physical distancing requirements due to COVID-19 are causing vendors and farmers’ market managers to rethink how their community events will operate this summer. Like other markets in Canada, many Ontario markets are going online with e-commerce platforms like Local Line and Open Food Network both based in Kitchener-Waterloo..
But many others will be abiding by new rules for multi-vendor, multi-stand markets for food only. No sampling of food will be allowed and no communal seating will be provided.
What’s clear is that none of the Ontario markets can go forward without the approval of a safety plan by one of the province’s 34 district public health units. Farmers’ Markets Ontario, the organization that represents the province’s markets, has put together some protocols with the assistance of a number of public health units.
The disruptive force of COVID-19 may linger going forward. Some markets are relocating for more spacious curbside pickups at churches or schools. Hours of operation may be shortened.
“We’re including a case study in our next newsletter of a market that’s successfully relocated,” says Catherine Clark, executive director, Farmers’ Markets Ontario. “On May 13, the market reported 255 orders and between $16,000 and $18,000 in sales. We’re looking forward to an increased flow of vegetables soon.”
For more information on operational templates, go to www.farmersmarketsontario.com