• 21°

Farmers Market will open this May

The farmer’s market is on.

Despite COVID-19, the Austin Farmers’ Market Place, LLC will start selling goods starting May 18, in downtown Austin.

Early on in the pandemic, when businesses were being closed, there was uncertainty if farmers markets were among those businesses, but the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association was able to confirm from the governor’s office that farmers markets were considered essential.

It’s good news for producers who were going to start planting no matter what.

“We do feel fortunate because before we didn’t even know if we were going to have a market,” said Manager Mary Ulland. “We were going to do what we do every year with planting and preparing, but there’s a lot of hungry people and what doesn’t sell we were going to give to food shelves. Either way, we were going to produce.”

However, there will be certain guidelines in place to ensure safety among those visiting the market, which include social distancing of six feet, vendors wearing masks (though gloves aren’t required), t hand washing stations and sanitizers and no handling of products by customers.

“They point, we pack,” Ulland said.

Additionally, the market is asking only one person per family come;there will be no mingling and consuming of purchases on site.

In turn, those venders taking part in the market will be more spread out.

While the guidelines are strict, Ulland believes their customers will be accepting of them.

“I think probably 90 percent of them will, but we always have the one that says, ‘I’m an American, I can do what I want.’ I feel we have a lot older customers and they are probably taking their own precautions.”

As the year goes on, Ulland said that she will continue to monitor the situation so as to stay on top of any further developments. Webinars through the MFMA are helping keep organizations and vendors aware, Ulland said.

As people start to get outside and make use of the farmers market, Ulland reminds people there are programs that can be used while shopping.

The Market Place accepts EBT credit and debit and there is also a program called Market Bucks, which if a customer spends $5 or $10, they will get a matching amount free. There’s also the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, where coupons are issued that work with WIC participants.

“There are some great programs out here,” Ulland said.

The Austin Farmers’ Market Place, LLC is open 4-6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at Main Street and Third Avenue Northeast near the Spam Museum. If you wish to be a vendors either send a message to Facebook.com/farmersmarketplacellc or call Ulland at 438-4213.