Representing one of the first returns to normalcy for the community, the Upper Arlington farmers market will open this month, but with rules designed to thin crowds and promote health and safety.
City officials have announced that the market will make its season debut 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at the northwest corner of the Tremont Pool parking lot, 2850 Tremont Road.
The market will be held each Wednesday through Sept. 30.
It's the second year the market is at Tremont Pool after nearly 30 years outside the Upper Arlington Senior Center.
However, there will be a number of rules and accommodations for social distancing and other mitigation efforts as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to Jared Nyhart, Upper Arlington community affairs manager, and Michelle White, farmers market manager.
"We want to meet and exceed the needs of our community, while maintaining a safe and responsible marketplace for our farmers and food producers," White said. "The Tremont Pool parking lot allows us to spread out our producers while simultaneously increasing the amount of space for social distancing."
Through July 31, the market will operate under rules organizers said have been put in place to keep customers, farmers, vendors and other community members safe, including that patrons and vendors will be required to wear masks, according to Nyhart.
"Farmers-market staff and volunteers will be on-site to ensure protocols are being followed," he said.
Additionally, Nyhart said the number of shoppers allowed within the market area at any given time "will be fluid," and "market managers will have a monitoring system in place that will allow patrons to enter as other shoppers progress through the market in a manner that provides for proper social distancing."
"There will be one entry to and one exit from the market, allowing the market organizers to control how many patrons are within the market area at one time. Market staff and volunteers will count entries and exits to maintain numbers," he said.
"The social aspects of this program have been removed. For health and safety reasons, this year's market is focused on providing a means for residents to purchase fresh produce and goods that are locally sourced."
Customers will be encouraged to order through vendors' websites.
Those details will be shared by vendors at the market and through a Get Fresh Farmers Market newsletter and social-media sites.
Nyhart said produce providers are considered "essential businesses" by the state government and the Upper Arlington farmers market has become a popular destination for many in the community.
Therefore, city officials and market organizers were eager to find ways to put on a safe event.
"Whenever possible, we believe it is important for us to continue the services and amenities that can help give our residents some sense of normalcy during these unprecedented times," Nyhart said. "We are confident in the plan that Get Fresh Markets has put in place to operate the market in a safe manner, while facilitating access to fresh produce for our residents."
Jaime Moore, who also is a manager of the market, said the market provides essential, fresh foods to local residents, and also helps Ohio farmers and the economy.
"The Upper Arlington farmers market is working hard to protect the marketplace and the farmers and food producers who rely on it," Moore said. "We appreciate your cooperation in helping our market navigate this crisis.
"Your support of local food producers is needed now more than ever."
On July 1, market officials will announce its plans for the remainder of the season, including operational plans to start Aug. 1.
"We are pleased that the leaders with Get Fresh Markets have developed the appropriate measures that allow our farmers market to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic providing a safe environment for our residents, local farmers and food producers and employees," said Debbie McLaughlin, Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation director. "Access to food during this outbreak has been a focus of the parks and recreation department with our older adult outreach and will continue with this market serving the Upper Arlington community."