October 23, 2021

Farmers markets adjust to doing business amid virus

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Joan Franklin of Scott tills her garden beds in preparation for the upcoming farmers market season — she sells at one in downtown Cortland. The coronavirus pandemic means markets must change their operations. Details are being worked out, but at least one market, Homer’s, has delayed its opening.

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted how everyday life operates and how annual events can be run — if they can still be run in ways that adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Add farmers markets to that list.

Farmers markets in Cortland and nearby counties may still operate, but how they do so will differ from years past. In fact, at least one has delayed its opening for the season.

“I think if everybody follows the rules, we should work out fine,” said Joan Franklin, the organizer of Cortland’s farmers market.

The market, which will have vendors stationed on Main Street between Court and Orchard Streets, plans to open May 16 and run from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays until the end of October, she said.

To maintain safety, vendors will wear masks and not allow customers to touch items such as fruit or vegetables. Furthermore, buyers will need to stand outside of the vendors’ tents, which measure 10 feet long.

“With Cortland County only having 32 cases, I think it will work out OK,” Franklin said.

The market will still include local produce, baked goods and meats, but won’t offer crafts under the governor’s executive order for essential business, she said.

For Homer’s farmers market, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has meant pushing back the opening and working out health and safety guidelines with village and town officials, said Dan Egnor, the village clerk.

“If there are vendors out there willing to work within the guidelines, then we’ll work with them and let them do their thing,” he said.

Municipal officials, including those on the Board of Trustees and the village’s office, are working on a plan for how the market will operate under social distancing and other safety guidelines, Egnor said.

The market’s opening has been pushed back from early May to June 6, according to a post from the market’s Facebook page. The market will be open 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays until Oct. 31 and 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays from June 24 to Aug. 12 at 53 S. Main St., according to the village’s website.

The market will try a drive-through style of operating, according to the Facebook post, though Egnor said that posts regarding the market that aren’t on the village’s website aren’t official and didn’t have any details on how a drive-through market would operate.

Other farmers markets in the region, like Moravia’s farmers market, are plan to open but are still figuring out how to do so within social distancing guidelines, said Barb Flynn, the market’s manager.

Flynn plans on opening the market June 4. It will run through late October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays in front of Kinney Drugs at 130 Main St.

Vendors will be required to wear masks and there may only be one person per booth but she was still trying to figure out plans beyond that.

“It’s going to be different, but I hope people are getting used to it by now that they will understand it,” Flynn said.

Beyond those changes, she still hopes that the eight vendors she usually gets will continue to sell their produce, homemade soaps, baked goods and other items.

“I just hope everything goes well and I’ll be able to continue doing this here,” she said. “It’s a small market but it’s a good market.”