The Osceola farmers market will take place this year, but will undergo changes to keep customers safe while shopping during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 market will be held in the parking lot of the Osceola United Methodist Church. This location will make the flow of traffic easier, according to market organizer Christine Elmquist.
“It lends itself a little better than the Mill Pond this year to having some of those safety procedures in place,” she said.
The market is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of both those working and the shoppers, and Elmquist said her main objective is to make sure everyone feels comfortable enough to attend.
“We’re really keen that the market is as inclusive as possible,” she said. “It’s important that people who are elderly or are high risk for varying medical conditions can also come.”
To accomplish that goal, Elmquist has implemented a number of safety procedures. There will be one entrance and exit to the to help with traffic flow and to limit the number of shoppers in the market at one time. The sides of the space will be roped off, with vendors on either side.
“So people can walk through really easily and feel that they can social space and keep that flow going,” Elmquist said.
The vendors will also be spaced appropriately and everyone in attendance, both vendors and customers, will be required to wear masks.
“We regard masks like a seat belt in a car,” Elmquist said. “Most of the time you don’t need them, but sometimes you do and you never know when that time is.”
Each vendor will be set up almost like a checkout at a gas station, with the product behind the vendor and a counter separating the customers and the workers. Each customer will approach the counter one at a time and tell the vendor what they’d like. The produce will then be picked by the vendor and set on the counter.
“Then the customer will put the money in a basket on the table,” Elmquist said. “And there will also be hand sanitizer on the table.”
Several vendors are also planning on offering prepaid orders that can be picked up at the market. Hours for the market will be 2 to 6 p.m., but Elmquist is also providing an extra half hour of shopping from 1:30-2 p.m. for those at high risk to COVID-19, in order to allow them time to finish their shopping before the market opens to the general public.
Elmquist is also looking for additional volunteers to help control traffic and assist with any other needs that arise.
“We’d be really happy to have them,” she said. “Anyone able, healthy and willing to help us out would be great.”
Elmquist hopes the additional rules will not put a damper on the experience of the market, and said she think they’re necessary for both the health of customers and the health of the market.
“One of the reasons obviously is the health and safety of the customer,” she said. “But I think it’s also an economic decision. You want a sustainable economy. We don’t want to start the market and then something goes downhill and we have to close. We want something that’s going to last.”