Guest Column: New Albert Lea Farmers Market regulations for 2020
Guest Column by Verlys Huntley
For over 40 years now, the Albert Lea Farmers Market has been pleased to provide our customers with healthy, safe, local food access, as well as a place to gather, visit and socialize.
Now with the new COVID-19 restrictions, this year will be much different, as we are mandated to change many of the things we were previously able to do at the market. We are, however, committed to doing everything we can to provide a safe shopping environment for all our customers and vendors.
The farmers market will open in Albert Lea on Wednesday, June 3 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., be open again Saturday, June 6 from 9 a.m. to noon, and each following week through the end of October.
Having been declared by our governor an essential business, the market will be operating, but with a little different appearance and rules this year. Our vendors are all required to wear a face mask (for your safety), keep a distance of 6 feet from all others, and keep our products separated from our customers by using empty tables in front of the tables containing items for sale.
Upon entering the market, we are asking our customers to please make use of our foot-operated hand washing station in the red barn. Then we would ask one person to do the shopping for the family (if possible), consider wearing a face mask as a courtesy and for the safety of others, and do not come to the market if not feeling well. Also, please come to the market prepared with a list and smaller bills to expedite your shopping experience. There will be one-way customer aisles, social distancing of 6 feet will be applied and customers will
not be allowed to touch the vendors products prior to purchasing, but can point out or ask for what they want and the vendors will bag it. Customers cannot use their own reusable or cloth bags at the market, as we will be required to use bags provided by the vendors. Each vendor will have hand sanitizer on their table for their own use and the customers’, and also will be sanitizing their tables periodically.
Also, no pets will be allowed on the market site this year, and no food consumption will be permitted at the market.
Although vendors love to visit with their customers and will be happy to see you all back at the market, we will avoid mingling or longer conversations until this pandemic is over. With the cooperation of our customers, we can provide you with some of the safest, healthiest and best-tasting food available, without it going through many hands or being processed and shipped long distances.
To provide for those of you who may not be able or are fearful about walking through the market, we will be offering a drive-up service. You can call (preferably two days ahead) and
place your order, ask questions about product availability, contact information for your favorite vendor or other questions about new market regulations and required mandates we will be following. Phone numbers to preorder or answer questions about the market are 507-448-3312, 507-402-1516 or 507-297-5546. For pre-orders: On market day, you will come to the market one half-hour ahead of market opening time, park your vehicle and phone or let us know you are ready to have your order delivered to your vehicle.
We realize all of us are going through difficult and uncharted waters during this pandemic, but as a market will do our very best to accommodate our customers by providing a safe and healthy food source at a time when a good diet and a strong immune system is especially important. We ask your help and cooperation in following the mandated regulations the state has set up so that we can all be safe and healthy. Thank you for continuing to support local growers and producers and keeping more of your food supply local.
See you all at the market!
Verlys Huntley has been a longtime advocate of Albert Lea Farmers Market.