Farmers’ markets across the country have had to make modifications as to how they will open in a way that’s safe for their volunteers, vendors, and most especially, their customers. Since early in March, we have sat in on dozens of hours of phone calls and webinars with other market managers, the CDC, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, extension offices, and farmers’ market coalitions. We have weighed several options for how The Monroe Farmers’ Market could continue to serve the community and support its farmers and local producers. We believe that we have selected the best mode of operation for our market and everyone it serves.
While changes to our market operations were inevitable due to the spread of COVID-19, we are proud to have created one of the safest and most convenient methods of bringing you fresh, Connecticut Grown produce and handmade specialty foods that feature locally grown ingredients. We plan to open on our original start date of Friday, June 19 using an online pre-order/customer pickup model.
Though your farmers’ market experience won’t be quite the same as it has been in the past, we’re committed to bringing you your favorite Farmers’ Market items (plus a few new ones!) in the safest way possible.
We are transitioning to an online ordering and customer pickup model for the entire 2020 season that will allow you to shop online and pre-pay for your farmers’ market purchases. Because our current location on the Monroe Town Green can’t support this revised mode of operation, we’re temporarily relocating the market to nearby Fireman’s Field. This will afford us all the space we need to operate safely and efficiently.
Why We Are Doing This
Even though many markets are held outdoors, for the time being they still have to adhere to strict social distancing protocols. Realizing fully that guidelines might eventually be relaxed, it’s up to individual markets to determine how they can operate given the resources (location, timing, funding, volunteers, etc.) available to them. We took all of this into account when coming up with a plan for this season and no decision was made lightly.
With no way to adequately control how customers enter the market, our location on the Town Green would have made it very difficult to open using the same “socially distanced” model that some markets have adopted. Further, the Monroe Police Department rightly expressed concerns early on about traffic flow in and around the Town Hall/Library complex. Limiting the number of customers on the green at any given time would have only exacerbated the problem. Given our normal volume of customers, extended wait times to purchase from vendors would undoubtedly mean that traffic would be backing up onto main roads. A socially-distanced market that is open to customer foot traffic also means a lot more work for volunteers and vendors as physical barriers, guided entry and exit points, safe distance markers, increased health and safety protocols and sanitization procedures would all have to be taken into account. The shopping experience you’re used to wouldn’t exist even under those conditions.
The market is self-funded and run entirely by unpaid volunteers. We simply don’t have the budget, time or resources to switch from one mode of operation to another part-way through the season. In order to be able to operate for an entire season with some semblance of continuity, we felt that this was the safest way to open and remain open in light of an ever-changing situation. Bear in mind that everything surrounding the spread of the virus is exactly that: an ever-changing situation. We understand that it’s not ideal and that in many ways, fundamentally changes the farmers’ market experience. We want nothing more than to be back on the Town Green and if everyone does their part to keep the community safe, we will be next season. Your patience, understanding and continued support of the market will help us immensely as we attempt to move forward in uncertain times.
How It Will Work
Regardless of whether social distancing restrictions are relaxed, we will operate in this way for the entire market season. Opening Day is June 19th and we will run until October 23rd, each Friday afternoon from 3:00pm–6:00pm, rain or shine.
We encourage you to shop at the Monroe Farmers’ Market this season. Your support of Connecticut farmers and local producers is especially critical and we hope that you’ll shop from each of our vendors this season. You can also donate to support the market. Your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated as it helps us to continue operating during this very challenging time.
More information on how to select a time slot and place your order online each week will be coming soon. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter (in the page footer below), follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and sign up for our text messaging service so that you can be notified when our online store opens each week for ordering.
Your patience and understanding as we make this transition is greatly appreciated! If you have any questions for the market, please feel free to email email@example.com.
The Monroe Farmers' Market is open June–October and offers fresh, locally-grown produce, baked goods, prepared foods and hand-crafted specialty foods to Connecticut locals.