When the Bexley Farmers Market kicks off its 10th season Thursday, May 21, the location and layout of the vendors will look a little different due to social-distancing measures intended to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In recent years, the market has been located along Dawson Avenue near the intersection of East Main Street. This year, Bexley worked with Capital University to temporarily relocate the market to a university parking lot known as S2 on the campus map, with adjacent parking in S3, Mayor Ben Kessler said. Both parking lots are on Pleasant Ridge Avenue, near its intersection with Astor Avenue.
The market will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Until at least July 1, the market will reserve a slot from 4 to 4:30 p.m. for vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens and individuals with compromised immune systems.
"We think the temporary location will provide a great and safe experience for vendors and customers and be a bright spot during a difficult time for our community," Kessler said.
The temporary location and the operational changes and rules will be in effect through July 31, said Michelle White, Bexley Farmers Market manager. She said the market would announce its plans for the remainder of the season July 1, including the location and operational plans for Aug. 1 through the end of October.
"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 parking lot provided by Capital University allows the market to maintain all of its vendors while simultaneously increasing the amount of space for social distancing."
White said the market would implement these measures for safety:
* Limiting the sale of food to whole, uncut produce and packaged food items
* No on-site food preparation or ready-to-eat foods
* No sampling of any food
* Limiting crowds by staggering entry to provide for social distancing
* Requiring space between vendor stands of at least 6 feet
* Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer for customers to use when entering and exiting the market
* Canceling all extracurricular activities, including music, children's activities and cooking demonstrations
* Grouping like items together, such as produce and baked goods, to reduce the amount of time searching for particular products
* Recommending that vendors use gloves
* Discontinuing use of tablecloths and other porous materials, such as baskets and pulp-fiber fruit and vegetable containers
"We will have signage at entry, reminding people to practice social distancing while in the market space. We will be controlling the number of customers in the market at once, as well," White said. "Customers not wearing a face covering will be asked to return with one."
The market did not have to reduce the number of vendors to accommodate the social-distancing guidelines, White said.
"We will have 25 weekly vendors," she said.
"Thanks to our new location at the start of the season, we were able to host every vendor that was originally accepted."
For more information, go to bexleyfarmersmarket.org.