(BLOOMINGTON) – The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, with support and direction from the Monroe County Health Department, is merging its successful online ordering system with a physically distanced walk-through customer order pick up as the market returns to its usual location at Showers Common, 401 N. Morton St. on Saturday, May 2.
Customers may place orders for Saturday’s market at the Online Farmers’ Market site starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday, April 28 until 750 orders are placed. The site offers a wide variety of products including fresh vegetables, meat, cheese and eggs, baked goods, seedlings, starts, bulbs, and more, sold by more than 40 farm vendors and food and beverage artisans.
Fulfilling its essential function as a food source, the market will offer customers who pre-purchase items online the opportunity to pick up orders directly from vendors at Showers Common on Saturday. Operating in compliance with current public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the May market will not offer the opportunity for on-site purchases, live entertainment, or representation by community organizations at Information Alley.
Per requirements established by the Monroe County Health Department to safeguard community health, a maximum of 75 customers will be permitted in the market area at one time. Customers will arrive at Showers Common during their assigned pickup time, enter the market from a single entrance on the brick plaza in front of City Hall, pick up items they have ordered directly from vendors, and exit from a single exit also on the plaza.
Vendors will be arranged in alphabetical order so that shoppers may follow their list of purchased items from booth to booth, in one-way pedestrian traffic, to pick up their pre-packaged orders. Each vendor is required to wear a mask and disposable gloves, to have hand sanitizer available for customers, and to clean tables and other surfaces inside their booth thoroughly and frequently. Hand washing stations have been added throughout the market.
The May market will build upon the model established and refined in April when the quickly evolving public health crisis threatened to eliminate or postpone the market. Recognizing the essential role the market plays — as a food source, and a key component in the local food economy — multiple City departments collaborated to devise the online ordering and drive-through pickup system at Switchyard Park in time for the market’s scheduled opening day, April 4. Within 22 hours of being open, the online market received nearly 500 orders, totaling more than $33,000 in purchases.
The robust response resulted in distribution delays on the first Saturday that market staff resolved for subsequent iterations by capping the number of orders at 325, packing food orders as customers arrived, lengthening the assigned food pickup times, and rearranging tables inside the Switchyard Park Pavilion to allow physical distancing while adding support staff. These changes greatly eased congestion and streamlined pickup times to an average of 10 to 20 minutes, even when customer capacity was increased to 479 orders during the third week of April, and 630 orders during the fourth.
“The customer response to the online Farmers’ Market has been tremendous so far, and is a testament to the relationships Farmers’ Market vendors have made with their local customers over the years,” said Farmers’ Market coordinator Marcia Veldman. “We are grateful for the guidance of the Monroe County Health Department as we provide an outlet for vendor products in the form of essential, healthy, local food while recognizing the seriousness of this public health issue.”
Up-to-date information about vendors who are selling on the online Farmers’ Market, and the opening dates and time for the online store is available here, where you may also subscribe to the Farmers’ Market weekly e-newsletter.
More information about how to shop for fresh, locally produced farm products and for foods and beverages crafted by local artisans, is available at the Online Farmers’ Market or by sending an email to email@example.com.