WORTHINGTON — Visitors to the Worthington Farmers Markets this summer and fall will encounter a few changes, not all of which are related to COVID-19.
For starters, the downtown Tuesday market won’t be downtown, but instead at the Schwalbach Ace Hardware lot, the same locale as the Saturday market. This is due to the planned construction of the 10th Street Plaza this summer.
“Our thinking was it would be less confusing for people to be in just one location for the whole summer, rather than moving it once construction starts,” said Jill Cuperus, who is co-coordinator of the Worthington Farmers Market with Christine Bullerman.
Cuperus said having both markets at Ace Hardware, 1131 Oxford St., will increase visibility of the market, but it could also impact attendance, as the downtown market always drew a lot of pedestrian traffic because it was closer to a residential area.
“I think people will see the market Tuesday evening as they go home from work and pull in,” she said. “We’re also hoping the pedestrians get out — whether they bike or walk, we’re hoping the pedestrians come and join us.”
The women continue to register vendors for the markets, which will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays starting June 30, and from 6:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays beginning July 4. Thus far, there are approximately 30 vendors who will offer produce and other items at different times throughout the season. The markets will operate through October.
Vendors, shoppers and visitors are being requested to wear a face mask or shield to the market for the safety of everyone. Hand sanitizer will also be available for use at the Tuesday and Saturday markets.
“We’re going to make a chalk line a bit away from the produce tables and have the customer stand behind the line,” she added.
“We’re asking customers to shop with their eyes and let the vendors handle all of the product and produce,” Bullerman said. Vendor booths will be arranged with more distance between them.
People are also expected to practice social distancing.
“The fun part about the market is it’s a community event — it’s a real social thing,” Cuperus said. “That’s sad this year, but we’re trying to encourage people to give a thumbs-up or say ‘Hello’ from a distance and not linger around as long as they normally would have in the past.”
Bullerman also asks families to send just one shopper to the market, while noting there will be designated adult-only shopping from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and adult with children shopping from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
New this year, people can call or text their order to their favorite vendors, and it will be bagged and ready by 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 a.m. on Saturdays.
This will be the fifth season that visitors will be able to use their EBT card to purchase items, and to use their credit or debit card to purchase tokens to use at individual vendor booths. A card reader will be available only during the Tuesday market, starting July 7.
Again this year, the Market Bucks matching program is available to EBT cardholders. Thanks to a Hunger Solutions grant, EBT users who purchase $10 in market bucks get $10 in market bucks free — redeemable once each week during the season. Both market bucks and tokens are accepted at the Saturday market as well.
Bullerman is seeking volunteers or a group of volunteers interested in helping either with the EBT program at the market or at the information booth. For more information or to volunteer, contact her at (507) 227-2917.
Farmers market shoppers can expect a variety of produce to be available when the first market of the season opens next Tuesday, said Cuperus, noting that some lettuces, radishes, early onions and kohlrabi are expected.
“We’ve been blessed with warm weather and timely rains,” Cuperus said, anticipating the markets to have a wide variety of good produce this year. The markets provide direct-to-consumer foods that are fresher, involve less handling and less transport than produce found at supermarkets.
Anyone interested in becoming a vendor should send a message through the Worthington, MN Farmers Market Facebook page or call the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919. The Facebook page will also provide timely information during the course of the season.