Farmers Markets During the Pandemic: A Vendor’s Perspective

— Written By Courtney Hotchkiss and last updated by
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Ambling through the colorful displays and wafting fragrances of potted plants is, for me, a crucial part of the outdoor market experience. Thankfully, Raleigh’s Farmers Market has remained open during the pandemic, one of the seemingly few familiar activities left in my life since the pandemic began. 

One way walk sign to guide visitors

A floor arrow and one-way walk sign guide customers of the farmers market to help maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals or small groups.

The market isn’t exactly the same as it was before, but it is still buzzing. Arrows line the floor, stalls are more spread out, and everyone is wearing a mask (slightly hindering the full olfactory experience). Observing this new orderly pace I began to wonder, what do the vendors think? What changes have they noticed and how have they been affected? Has anything positive come from these new rules? 

One point of contention for some was the change in layout of the space. “After years of being in the same spot, we had to move locations, throwing off some of the regular customers,” said one vendor. Their tip to visitors is if you have a favorite vendor, be sure to look for their sign or, like many markets across the state, check online to see if there is a map of the new layout. You can also sign up for market newsletters to learn about any recent changes.

Sign asking customers to order one at a time.

A sign reminding customers to take turns. One vendor noticed people are more patient with one another since the implementation of social distancing policies.

If safety is your concern, regulations have been implemented according to local, state and federal guidelines. “If you think about it, the market is safer than a grocery store,” observed one vendor, spreading their arms wide. “We’re outside with plenty of airflow!” The Carborro Farmers’ Market is specifically working to flatten the curve at their location. 

If you are not comfortable walking through the stalls, no problem — several farms allow you to call ahead or order online for pick up, like the clickable link you can find on the homepage of the Pittsboro Farmer’s Market. 

When asked about any silver linings in the recent changes brought about by the pandemic, there were a few suprising remarks. “People are more patient and courteous” remarked one vendor. Another vendor was happy to say “good riddance” to free sampling, for the sake of hygiene and having had individuals too often abuse the offer.

It’s easy to continue supporting farmers’ markets and local growers. When asked what the best way is, the unanimous answer was “keep shopping here!” 

>>Thank you to all of the vendors at the Raleigh’s for their time and insightful responses.