AMBLER — With a little more than one month until the borough’s annual farmers market opens for the season, organizers are taking extra precautions as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“The crops are doing well, and the farmers have not stopped planting or seeding for the growing season,” said Jon Glyn, Farm to City’s farmers market program manager.
“The expectation should still be that there’s going to be lots of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, pastured meats, free range eggs, some prepared foods, fresh artisanal breads, and we’re planning on using the space differently so we have enough room to spread out the producers and the customers,” Glyn continued.
The Philadelphia-based group organizes urban and suburban farmers markets like the one in Montgomery County. The Ambler Farmers’ Market will take place from 9 a.m. to noon each Saturday from June through November at the old SEPTA parking lot on 29 W. Butler Ave. Parking is available in the nearby train station parking lot, as well as on Maple Avenue, according to Ambler Main Street Manager Elizabeth Wahl Kunzier.
In order to efficiently conduct business while adhering to social distancing guidelines, the farmers’ market will have no more than a dozen produce and culinary driven vendors at each event, but organizers will also “rotate others into the market,” according to Glyn.
Wahl Kunzier said that food trucks typically found at past farmers’ markets will not be participating this year.
“It’s unfortunate, but they don’t want people to linger,” Wahl Kunzier said. “It’s more of a get-your-stuff-and-go situation.”
Market organizers are implementing several health and safety protocols for shoppers and vendors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Until further notice, we’re expecting that all the customers, and the producers, and the staff will be wearing face masks while at the market,” Glyn said.
In addition to the shortened hours of operation, Glyn said the farmers market may look a little different this year in order to provide enough space to properly social distance. He added he may reconfigure the market’s entrance and exit to create a “one-way foot traffic flow.”
Patrons should also expect to order items ahead of time online and pick them up in a designated 30-minute window, according to Glyn. At other markets, he said customers are given a certain pickup time alphabetically, depending on their last name.
“We feel like that’s a very safe way to conduct business right now,” Glyn said.
As cases of the novel coronavirus continue across the country, state and county, enterprises deemed essential continue to take added precautions when dealing with the food that people consume.
For Glyn, he said he believes this pandemic has allowed people to take a step back and enjoy the simple pleasures of shopping small.
“I think this crisis and the protocols that we’re doing to make sure it’s a low risk shopping experience kind of reinforces the idea of what farmers markets really are, which is food makers, farmers, family businesses within our own region, within our own watershed that are offering very nutritious, fresh food to their neighbors,” Glyn said.
Wahl Kunzier acknowledged how people’s outlooks may change during these unprecedented times as shoppers focus on “homegrown, local” items.
“I also think this is going to be a new normal,” she said.
Glyn added that farmers markets help to get people back to basics.
“This whole idea of being locked down, of social distancing, has created smaller worlds within a bigger world, and a farmers market has always been like that,” he said.
Wahl Kunzier agreed.
“It’s a good thing for our local farmers. It’s a good thing for the environment. It’s a good thing for small businesses so I think that’s gonna be the trend,” she said.
Glyn and Wahl Kunzier agree that they’re both excited about safely interacting with the producers and customers as well as fresh items for sale once the Ambler Farmers’ Market gets underway next month.
“I am looking forward to just being able to go outside, and have a nice shopping experience where you can support the community, and support local farmers because they really need the support [of] the community now and I think it’s gonna be a win-win situation for everybody,” Wahl Kunzier said.
For more information, visit the Ambler Farmers’ Market Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AmblerFarmersMarket/.