By Sue Moore
Locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables should be just around the corner for opening day of farmers’ markets. But because of the coronavirus shutdown, exactly when customers will be able to purchase food in the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market is still unknown. In any case, the opening day in May has been postponed to at least the first Friday of June.
“We are waiting anxiously on the Governor’s decision as to when to set the opening day,” said Cassie Shimp, new market manager for Vicksburg. “A survey of our vendors showed that over 80 percent of them did not want to open prematurely, saying they would rather wait and not risk it. A few other markets have opened around the state but we will wait until the all-clear signal is given, tentatively by Friday, June 5 if all goes well.”
No matter when the opening takes place, much will look different for customers who may feel more comfortable wearing masks, even in June. “For sure, the vendors will be wearing masks and gloves,” said Stella Shearer, the Vicksburg market’s board president. “We have been given guidelines and protocols to follow from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and our own market association when we do open. We don’t want to encourage a crowd to come and stand in one location. There will be no Kids Plate this year, no live music, no picnic tables or benches to sit on, no food demos and our vendors cannot offer food samples. Additional hand wash stations and hand sanitizers will be available,” Shearer said.
Markets have been deemed essential services during the latest Governor’s executive order, so some have opened across the state, with Kalamazoo and Portage markets slated for Saturday and Sunday June 6 and 7. The question in everyone’s mind is whether customers will be willing to shop even if the vendors are spaced out, Shimp noted.
“Customers will be asked to point to the item they want to purchase and the vendor will bag their choice and accept the payment. The market will only be allowed to sell food and personal hygiene products,” Shearer said.
Markets have been deemed essential services during the latest Governor’s executive order, so some have opened across the state, with Kalamazoo and Portage markets slated for Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7. The question in everyone’s mind is whether customers will be willing to shop even if the vendors are spaced out, Shimp noted.
Vicksburg has relied upon volunteers to staff the market. Shimp is the third person to be hired to run the market since its inception in 2010. The market also continues to partner with volunteers to assist with its everyday operations. Shearer recently announced that the Vicksburg market was granted 501c3 status by the IRS. This tax status will allow donors to make tax deductible donations as well as qualify the market to apply for grants.