How to run & attend an Illinois farmer’s market during COVID-19

The Illinois Farmers Market Association COVID-19 Toolkit lays out official guidelines.

Farmers Markets hold a special place in a community’s fabric, typically bringing people together around food, fun, and neighbors.

During the unprecedented time Illinois faces with the COVID-19 Crisis, farmers markets will become a more transactional experience. When taken back to the basics these markets serve an essential role in the lives of the vendors and those who count the market as a vital source of fresh, wholesome, food.

The ILFMA’s COVID-19 Toolkit was created to guide farmers market’s on the best ways to operate an “IN and OUT” style market. This method will streamline the market experience and keep all involved as safe as possible.

The downloadable guides and signage will make it easy to get the message out that “This season, farmers markets are transitioning from community gathering spaces to trasaction based markets, or IN-and-OUT Markets.”

For a clearer understanding of a “transaction based market” below are the ILFMA Customer Guidelines for the 2020 Farmers Market Season.

  • Maintain a 6′ distance between yourself, vendor employees, and other customers
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • This is not a family event.
  • Limit attendance to one member of the household.
  • Pre-order products where possible to speed up transaction process.
  • Use credit and debit cards for purchasesIf cash is used, do not expect change.
  • Do not pick up any products or produce at vendor stands, ask staff to help you.
  • If you prefer a reusable bag, you will need to place purchases in your bag yourself. It will not be filled by vendors. At home, regularly wash your reusable bags.
  • If you sneeze or cough, do so only into a tissue (and immediately dispose of it) or into the crease of your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds according to the CDC Guidelines.
  • If hand washing is not available, use a CDC approved hand sanitizer, either 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.
  • At home, wash all products thoroughly before using.

So for customer’s the message is clear, markets are serious, staple food venues for many including the most vulnerable, and we should be prepared to start supporting local safely.

For the vendors selling at IN-and-OUT Markets there will be some official and cultural changes that are made clear in ILFMA 2020 Guidelines for Vendors.

As for the larger conversation of how to adapt a traditional farmers market to the IN-and-OUT Market model, guidance and first steps are outlines in ILFMA 2020 Guidelines for Farmers Market Managers.

In addition, ILFMA is offering free signage and Volunteer Waiver Forms for download at the official ILFMA website.