As grocery stores face unprecedented demand, local farmers markets will remain open this weekend, but most are making some changes to how they set up the booths and how customers interact with vendors.
Even as the city shelters in place, shoppers can still go to food businesses large and small, and the current order allows for area farmers markets to take place this weekend.
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Here’s what each of the markets is doing (UPDATED for the weekend of March 27 and 28):
The Sustainable Food Center’s markets in Republic Square Park downtown and the parking lot of the Toney Burger Center in Sunset Valley will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with more space between the booths and handwashing stations set up throughout the market. They won’t have a sampling booth and vendors will be washing their hands frequently, too.
Even though Barton Creek Square Mall and all other major malls in the area are temporarily closed, the Barton Creek Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Organizers said they are also in contact with the health department about setting up additional sanitizing stations around the market and encouraging customers to touch only what they want to purchase.
The Saturday morning market at Wolf Ranch Town Center, 1015 W. University Drive in Georgetown, will also take place as scheduled Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Lone Star Farmers Market, a market in the Hill Country Galleria, will also take place as scheduled, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
In Spicewood, the Pedernales Farmers Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday in the parking lot of Apis restaurant. A number of vendors are taking pre-orders through their individual Facebook and Instagram pages.
Eden East Farm and Boggy Creek farmstands will also be open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The farms, located within a mile of each other off Springdale Road in East Austin, are offering curbside pickup for customers who would like to stay in their cars. Boggy Creek has a selection of meats, cheeses and some preserved foods, and Eden East is assembling $20 and $30 produce bags with a mix of vegetables and herbs that are in season.
The Texas Farmers Markets at the Lakeline Mall on Saturday and the Mueller development on Sunday will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and many vendors at the Sunday market are taking pre-orders, which organizers are hoping will reduce the amount of contact between customers and vendors and help customers get in and out quickly.
Nena Johnson, executive director of the Texas Farmers Market, encouraged shoppers to treat the farmers market as they would a grocery store.
The Mueller market, which is next to a lake in the park, is usually a hub for leisurely Sunday mornings and afternoons, with customers buying food for the week but also enjoying prepared food and drinks with their families. But not this week.
"All food will be packaged to go and we ask that you pick up your products and leave," the market said in a release. "Do not idle at the market and do not consume any food or beverages on site."
The markets are requesting that customers follow these guidelines:
• Wash hands for 20 seconds upon arrival at the market and frequently as you move throughout the space. There will be hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer throughout the market.
• Maintain at least an arm’s length distance between other shoppers and vendors, especially while waiting in line.
• Each vendor will be at least 5 feet from another vendor, but customers are not allowed to walk or stand between them.
• No hand-to-hand contact will be allowed between vendors and shoppers. Vendors will be bagging food and products and then placing those on the table for the customer to pick up. Customers can pay for products using a no-contact method, such as Apple Pay, or they can place cash and credit cards on the table for vendors to pick up.
• Do not greet anyone at the market with a hug or a handshake.
• No dogs are allowed at the farmers market unless they are registered service dogs. (Emotional support dogs do not qualify.)
• Anyone who is feeling unwell in any way should stay home, and any shopper who is at a higher risk, including individuals who are over 65 and/or with underlying health conditions, should stay home.