Give Now  »

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

From Farm To Table In The Age Of Social Distancing

Bags and containers lined up on a table outside of a building, coolers and a person approaching a car with full bags.

Runners at the Bloomington Winter Farmers Market grabbed orders from various vendors and delivered them to customer's cars on Saturday March 21, 2020 at the Switchyard Pavillion. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

Local farmers markets, are working to get fresh food from the farm to the table, while maintaining that crucial distance.

Earth Eats spoke with Addison Lively, Market Master for the Bloomington Winter Farmers Market, about switching to an oline ordering and drive-thru pickup system for the last two Saturdays of their season. Customers placed their orders and pre-paid during the week. On Saturday, farmers and prepared food vendors brought the orders to the Switchyard Pavillion. Only a few vendors were allowed in the building at once, and they were spread out inside to maintain adequate social distance. The rest of the vendors' orders were lined up outside.

Customers lined up in their cars in the parking lot, and as they pulled up to the entrance a "runner" would approach the car for the name, then dash around collecting the order from the various vendors.

It all took time. There were plenty of kinks to work out, but the farmers and vendors sold their products and the customers got their local food fix. This week, March 28th, is their last market of the season.

Another local farmers market is just getting started. We talked with Brandi Williams, a market vendor and member of the planning committee for a new market, The People's Market. They expected to launch their market on Saturday April 4, but had to pivot quickly in the face of the Coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings.

The planning committee shifted gears and created the People’s CSA. Their order form is streamlined to include a produce box (with a variety of items from various farmers) a bread and egg box, and this week, a dessert box. The people’s CSA also offers the option of sponsoring a share for someone who can’t afford to pay, and the option of ordering a box, free of charge. Unlike a traditional CSA, customers place orders on a weekly basis, rather than paying ahead of time for a whole season.

Pickup for the People’s CSA takes place on Saturdays in the former KMart parking lot next to Bloomingfoods on the Eastside of Bloomington. The shares are on a table, and customers are asked to keep the required 6 foot distance when picking up their shares.

They’ll be modifying their offerings and their process in the coming weeks as they settle into the season, and what might be the new normal.

Bloomington’s largest market, The Bloomington Community Farmers' Market held at City Hall was also scheduled to open April 4.

I spoke with Rachel Beyer, a Local Food Coordinator working closely with the City of Bloomington to create an online ordering platform for the vendors at their market.

Market Coordinator, Marcia Veldman, shared this statement,

"Bloomington Community Farmers' Market staff are exploring ways to connect Farmers' Market vendors with customers in the community, as we work within the public safety parameters surrounding COVID-19. A new version of the April Market will utilize online ordering directly from Market vendors, and we are looking forward to sharing those details in the future."

Hear the story on this episode of Earth Eats.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Harvest Public Media