Spring is commonly the start of the farmers market season but some in Carroll County won’t be holding theirs until closer to summer, if then, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seasonal farmers markets are traditionally a place to get fresh produce, shop from local businesses and connect with members of the community, but restrictions aimed at mitigating the spread of coronavirus, is having an impact.
Mount Airy Main Street farmers market is annually the first of the weekly farmers markets in Carroll County, but Mount Airy has postponed from May 13 to a tentative June 3 start, still continuing until Sept. 30. Instead of running for 21 weeks, it would run for 18 weeks at 3 North Main Street.
Many changes are planned for the market that is usually an event to bring Mount Airy residents together on Wednesdays. The market will have only eight vendors, no hot food distributed, social distancing markers and customers will have to pre-order and pick-up from vendors at the market.
Vendors will be required to wear gloves and patrons will have to wear a face masks.
According to Alice Settle-Raskin, Mount Airy Farmers Market master, she decided to make changes to the farmers market in March as news of the pandemic developed. Settle-Raskin will be sending a weekly newsletter of what’s available for pre-orders from vendors. They will also be calling for volunteers soon to run products to patrons and a gatekeeper. The market will have two side and there will only be 10 patrons allowed on each side at a time.
Even though the market is scheduled for June 3, that could change if the COVID-19 pandemic continues Settle-Raskin said.
Sykesville’s farmers market was scheduled to begin May 17 and run through Oct. 26, but its start has been postponed until June 21. No end date has been set. The market will be held at Baldwin Drive (in front of Baldwin Station).
According to Julie Della-Maria, executive director of the Downtown Sykesville Connection, they are trying to find the best and safest way to hold their market, either virtually or with some kind drive-thru because they don’t have enough space to abide social distancing between vendors.
The Carroll County farmers market had to cancel two of their three spring markets at the Carroll County Agriculture Center — the Spring Fling market that was scheduled for March and their Easter Show in April — but are hoping to have their Mother’s Day Show, according to Heather Kuykendall, Carroll County farmers market manager.
Their summer markets are still scheduled from June 13 through Sept. 5 at 700 Ag Center Drive, Westminster.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected how the market will operate and the number of vendors.
According to Kuykendall, they will abide by state-mandated guidelines to be safe during the pandemic but will also wipe down tabletops, have everyone wearing masks, have vendors at a distance and markings six feet apart on the ground to follow social distancing.
They will only have 10 vendors this year compared to the usual 50 to 75 they usually have because some places are nonessential and others are operated by those with compromised immune systems that don’t feel safe to participate at this time, according to Kuykendall.
The Downtown Westminster farmers market didn’t postpone their market and still plans on opening May 16 and running each Saturday through Nov. 21 at 27 Railroad Ave.
Downtown Westminster will also adapt to different procedures this year due to the pandemic.
Shoppers must wear facial masks and they are not allowed to touch products at the market. Customers are also encouraged not to bring their own bags but if they do, vendors will not touch them and just place the items in their bags. Customers are also encouraged to use smaller bills if they use cash but cards and vouchers from vendors are also accepted, according to Brooke Hagerty, Downtwon Westminster farmers market manager.
The Hampstead farmers market’s season is scheduled to begin on June 6, its original date, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, at 1341 N. Main Street.
“With the COVID-19 crisis and the current restrictions in place to ensure safety, the all-volunteer Hampstead Farmers’ Market Advisory Team has developed a plan so that the market can continue to serve the needs of its community yet at the same time keep safety and health of both customers and vendors its priority,” Keith Johnson, Hampstead Farmers’ Market interim manager, said in a news release.
Johnson said patrons will be allowed to preorder and pick up goods. There are no walk-up sales to be done and if people only have cash, there will be a separate person who handles cash or transactions for preorders. Everything will be prepackaged for preorders.
Only items considered essential will be sold, Johnson said, and a list of current vendors is available at www.hampsteadfarmersmarket.com.
According to the release, several rules will be in place. “These are: 1) Customers cannot bring pets until further notice; 2) Face masks must be worn when picking up orders; 3) Customers should maintain 6-foot distancing rule; 4) If possible, only one person picking up order 5) Limit socializing; 6) All items must be preordered and prepaid, no walk up shopping; 7) Customers should respect vendors’ individual safety procedures.”
The market’s season runs every Saturday in June through September.
“While we are excited to begin our 2020 season, we recognize that it will be one like no other,” Johnson said in the release. “Our vendors have been outstanding in working with us to come up with a viable solution so that we can continue serving the community. Our farmers and small businesses rely on our market and the support from the community. We ask for patience and we thank everyone for their support as we all navigate these uncharted waters together.”
Taneytown’s farmers market is postponed until further notice, as of May 27, according to Carroll County Grown.