New Albany Farmers Market hasn't missed a beat during pandemic

SARAH SOLE
ssole@thisweeknews.com
Reagan Casto, 7, helps sort peaches with her grandmother, Jeanne Woolf, at the Woolf Farms vendor booth Aug. 20 at the New Albany Farmers Market.

Although farmers markets have had to operate under specific safety guidelines because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the changes have not affected turnout at the New Albany Farmers Market, according to organizers.

Market manager Jackie Krebs said the market has averaged about 1,000 customers each week, similar to years past.

Krebs said market organizers were not sure what to expect when the location was moved from Market Square to the New Albany Church of the Resurrection parking lot at 6300 E. Dublin-Granville Road, a switch made to provide ample space for social distancing.

"We've been really pleasantly surprised," she said.

Overall, customers were good about adhering to safety guidelines, Krebs said. In one or two instances, market volunteers gave masks to people who didn't have one, she said.

The market runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 10. This year, it started June 25.

About 50 vendors have sold their goods at the market each week, Krebs said.

Although the parking lot allowed vendors and customers to safely distance from each other, it has had other benefits.

Market Square had room only for a portion of vendors to park their vehicles adjacent to their tents, but the church lot allows all vendors to do so, Krebs said. That can be handy for vendors to store extra boxes of supplies or produce in their vehicles to take out as needed, she said.

The lot also has offered more parking for customers, Krebs said.

She said she doesn't know if the market will be held in the church lot again next summer.

Krebs said she has appreciated the market's volunteers and the support the market received from the New Albany Community Foundation, which provided complimentary tote bags for shoppers, hand-sanitizer dispensers and signs.

Krebs also said the feedback she has received from vendors was positive.

Matt McCarty of McCarty's Taste of Eden said this was his first time participating in New Albany's summer market; he participated in the winter market last year.

McCarty's Taste of Eden offers non-GMO poultry, such as chickens, ducks and turkeys, and grass-fed beef, he said.

Although he was a bit nervous about his first summer at the market, McCarty said, he found customers were understanding of the safeguards in place for the pandemic.

He also said sales were up earlier in the summer when the pandemic caused meat shortages, and he had a considerable number of orders placed ahead of time.

The pandemic also caused McCarty to change the way he accepted payment from his customers. This summer he moved to a Square reader instead of using his mobile phone to limit interaction, he said, he said.

The pandemic also caused Kim Hendrix to pivot when planning for the market.

Hendrix, who owns Fromagerie, said the shade and nearby power sources at Market Square had allowed her to keep her cheeses cold in years past.

This year, with hot temperatures and no power outlets close at hand, "I thought it best not to offer it," she said.

Hendrix still sold her breads and cheesy loaves, though, and she has had much more business this year, she said.

"Perhaps people are seeking the comfort of something homebaked, she said.

For more information about the market, go to healthynewalbany.org/farmers-market.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah

Wendy Gabriel of New Albany browses green beans for sale at the Wishwell Farms vendor booth Aug. 20 at the New Albany Farmers Market.