12 Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market While Social Distancing

March 27, 2020

During the pandemic, farmers markets are open as an essential service, providing a vital source of fresh fruits and vegetables and food staples for our communities in a spacious, open-air setting. But our community and our farmers markets could be jeopardized if we don’t each do our part to stay safe during this public healthy crisis.

In good times, farmers markets have been places to gather and converse, however, now is the time to follow public health and safety advisories and resist the urge to linger and socialize. We all have a critical role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

We are here to support you and our vendors through this. Here are 12 tips to help you plan your trip, so we can keep farmers markets open and safe. Thank you for protecting yourself and your community, while staying well fed and supporting local farmers and producers who work hard to feed us!

1. Be healthy and wear a mask. Do not come to the farmers market if you are sick or symptomatic (such as having a cough or fever) or a member of a high-risk group. If possible, please send a family member or friend to shop for you, or see our pickup and delivery options below. Always wear face covering, such as a cloth mask. If you must sneeze or cough, please do so into a tissue or your elbow. Follow these tips for how to protect yourself and your community.

2. Have a game plan. Come prepared with your shopping list in hand. Knowing what you need to buy will help you get in in and get out of the market quickly, and help our farmers keep lines moving smoothly. To help you get started, check out our list of pantry items and immune-boosting foods from the farmers market.

3. Shop quickly and efficiently. Avoid peak times, and try to limit your visit to 30 minutes or less. Many of our farmers will have items prebagged for you to grab and go. Our prepared food vendors are packaging all hot foods to go for you to enjoy at home.

4. Shop solo and keep a safe distance. Please avoid physical contact and keep a distance of six feet from others at all times. We recommend sending one family or household member to shop if possible to help avoid crowding. (Household members can stand closer together; parents should always keep their children close.) Our farmers market booths will be spaced further apart to help you move with ease. If you see a friend, resist the urge to chat, and instead catch up by phone or video-chat later⁠—possibly while sharing a home-cooked meal, remotely!

5. Mind the queue. Always maintain a social distance of six feet while shopping and waiting in line at the farmers market. Please help us by following signage and visual cues for lines.

6. Follow safe shopping protocols (updated October 2020). Self-service is allowed at the farmers market, at each seller’s discretion. At self-service booths, you must use the provided disposable gloves or other barriers when handling items, or use a handwashing station or hand sanitizer prior to entering the booth. As always, maintain a distance of 6 feet from other shoppers, and wear a mask. Some sellers may not allow self-service, so please follow the guidelines posted by each seller at their booth; when in doubt, please ask the seller. Sorry, there is still no sampling allowed!

7. Wash your hands. Wash up before and after coming to the market. Foodwise offers handwashing stations in the famers market, and bathrooms are located on both ends of the inside of the Ferry Building and second floor. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for 20 seconds, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you are not able to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. 

8. Keep transactions quick and minimize money handling. When possible, use exact change, credit card, or contactless payments. Mobile wallets and tap-to-pay credit cards are accepted by many of Foodwise’s sellers.  

9. Preorder for pickup or delivery. If you’re not able to come to market, you can order veggie boxes, packaged products, and hot food for delivery online, while supporting your favorite local farmers and food businesses. Check out a list of our vendors who offer online ordering for home delivery.

10. Thank your farmer. These are especially challenging times for our farmers, food makers, and restaurants, as they work hard on the frontlines to feed us. We must invest in and strengthen our region’s farms and food supply, especially in times of crisis.

11. Be patient, flexible, and kind. This is a stressful time, but we’re all in this together! As always, be kind, and remember that viruses do not target by race or ethnicity. We are always stronger together in love and respect, not fear. Farmers markets are places of nourishment and care, and we believe in the power of community resilience to carry us through.

12. Take care of yourself and your community. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to keep our immune systems strong when we need it most! Visit the Foodwise recipe archive for cooking inspiration to nourish you and your loved ones. Let us know how you are nourishing yourself. Thank you for your partnership in ensuring our farmers markets are safe, healthy, and inclusive spaces for everyone. 

Learn more about what we’re doing for your safety at the farmers market.

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