As the official start of summer nears, farmers markets in the area are starting to open, with new guidelines to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The River Falls Market was one of the first to open, and markets in New Richmond and Hudson will open soon as well. Plaza 94 in Hudson on June 4, and New Richmond Heritage Center Farmers Market on June 13.
Recommendations for local farmers markets are available from the state and the University of Wisconsin-Madison extension.
“We want to keep our customers and our vendors safe,” said Hudson Plaza 94 market manager Dave Weiss.
Mary Cincotta, the manager of New Richmond Heritage Center Farmers Market, said preparations are about common sense.
“We’re all aware of our surroundings now, and what we’re going through,” she said.
One of the main changes is that customers will not be able to handle the products.
Vendors should have one person to bag products, and one to handle the money.
Social distancing will be implemented at markets, both between vendors and between vendors and customers.
Hand sanitizer will be available for vendors and customers.
Face masks are optional at both markets.
Plaza 94 will be placing dividers in the center of the market, having customers go one way down each side to further encourage social distancing.
At the New Richmond market, customers will not be able to eat anything onsite.
The precautions are subject to change as necessary, Cincotta said.
“We want to make the market safe and enjoyable for everyone,” she said.
Cincotta said the market still wanted to be open this year to be available for the community, especially for those on WIC programs who receive farmers market coupons.
“We want to make sure that’s available for the families in need,” she said.
Getting ready to open this year has been work, Weiss said, but he wants people to know that they’re open and ready.
“We have things in place to protect them from COVID-19, and we will have all our normal products that they purchased from us in the past,” he said.
Plaza 94 Farmers Market is held from 7:30 a.m. to noon Thursdays through October in the Plaza 94 parking lot in Hudson.
New Richmond Heritage Center Farmers Market is held 8 a.m. through 1 p.m. Saturdays through October in the center’s parking lot.