by Kyla Hurt
The Jacksonville Farmers Market at Lincoln Square opened May 1 for its season. Still, many may be curious as to how one can safely shop and buy at a farmers market during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help the customer understand the process, the Illinois Farmers Market Association (ILFMA) has created guidelines for the 2020 farmers market season. ILFMA explains that this season, “farmers markets are transitioning from community gathering spaces to transaction based markets, or IN-and-OUT Markets.” In other words, don’t dilly-dally. Follow the guidelines and make your purchases in the least amount of time possible … get in and out.
Located in the Lincoln Square Shopping Center at 901 W. Morton Ave., the Jacksonville Farmers Market is open from 7 a.m. until noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Jacksonville Farmers Market Manager David Gregory had worked with the Morgan County Health Department prior to opening day to ensure proper procedures from their end, making certain that vendors not only understood vendor guidelines, but also agreed to follow them. At this point, as the market has been open for business, Gregory makes sure that signage is posted at either end of the market to notify the public of the rules. Gregory listed the following guidelines for the market on the group’s Facebook page:
1) Do not touch produce or baked items unless planning to purchase.
2) Credit card, debit card, EBT or exact cash will be accepted. No change will be offered.
3) Maintain social distance in the market and while waiting to purchase.
4) Vendors will mark 6′ near their tables or area.
5) Be ready with your order when it is your turn.
6) Choices may be limited. Be patient.
7) Wash produce and wipe off packaging at home before using.
Gregory also noted that vendors must wear gloves and masks, and that hand sanitizer will be available. One great option (and something that is encouraged) is to pre-order by phone, text, email or Facebook, depending on the vendor. Most any vendor can be searched on the internet to find a form of contact.
Noted specifically as taking pre-orders by Facebook are Triple Creek Farm Greenhouse, Bland Family Farm and Mueller Family Farm. The Jacksonville Farmers Market at Lincoln Square is following all current safety regulations in Illinois for farmers markets. For more information, check out the Illinois Farmers Market Association’s COVID-19 toolkit at www.ilfma.org. It is full of assorted resources, such as this guidelines, signage and information.
Farmers markets are great opportunities to buy local. Buy fresh produce and other items such as baked goods, locally-sourced honey, jams, tea leaves, herbs, pies, apple butter, granola, flowers and more. Gregory’s sixth guideline stated that choices may be limited and to be patient. He added, “ At the May markets, this is obvious depending on the weather. By July, there are mounds of food. Spring vegetables are lettuce, other greens, green onions, radishes, bedding vegetables and flowers. Baked items, honey, and meat products will also be available.” It’s important to keep all the guidelines in mind. Find additional information on the “Jacksonville Farmers Market at Lincoln Square” page on Facebook.