The Howard County Farmers Market (aka the Nashville Farmers Market) will be delaying its opening from May 1 to May 15.
In previous years, the market opened on the first Friday in May. However, due to the current national pandemic virus situation, “it is safest for all concerned if we have a delayed market opening,” according to Elias “Julio” Fuentes, local market manager.
“Several guidelines and recommendations have been issued by Federal and Arkansas State government agencies which our farmers market will implement this year.” he said. “The Arkansas Health department and the Arkansas Farmers Market Association have issued guidelines which we will put in place at the market. This in turn, will affect how our vendors and customers will be able interact.”
During the past week discussion between the market manager with vendors was necessary to coordinate essential changes as to how the vendors will conduct the sale of their produce to the customer. Therefore, new farmers market policies on social distancing, the wearing of gloves and masks, and the prepackaging of the produce is required by various government agencies will be enforced.
Fuentes added, “For instance, in order to comply with one of these new guidelines, the market will be restricting the foot traffic at the market. This is necessary because we are being strongly advised for health and safety reasons, not to allow large groups of people to gather at the market and not to allow individuals at the market to handle the produce for themselves prior to purchasing the items they buy. Instead, we will be implementing a drive-thru or curbside opportunity for our customers. So, we will be expecting our customers to stay in their cars while at the market and obey all posted traffic flow signs. In addition, all produce for purchase will be prepackaged by the vendor prior to sell.”
This year we will the market will be offering two days that the market will be operating. Friday mornings from 7-11 a.m. and on Monday 3-7 p.m.
The market will be working closely as possible with vendors to promote what they have to offer and when they expect to have it ready for sale on a market day. So, it will be in the customer’s interest to monitor our Facebook page, Nashville’s local newspapers and radio stations to see what our vendors currently have available.
“We also highly encourage that the customer pre-pay for their produce if it is an option available from the vendor,” Fuentes said. “Customers will need to check directly with the vendor to see if this is possible. Vendors who can accept prepayments will have their contact information posted on our Facebook page.
“The reason we ask the customer to consider prepayment is because if the exchange of money can be minimized by prepaying, it will help to deter the spread of the virus. Another step in the right direction!”
The May 15 date is tentative for now, and the market manager will re-evaluate the situation a few days before to see if opening the market is considered safe to do so. If it is, then the market will promote what the vendors are offering on it Facebook page, newspaper and radio. If it is not safe to do so, communication will go out on the various media and signs will be posted at the market as to new opening date.