A popular summer activity, local farmers markets, have not been immune to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Fishers Farmers Market has created some innovative solutions to the obstacle.
Starting May 2, the market operated virtually and will continue to accept virtual orders, although it did reopen to in-person attendees May 23.
“The No. 1 reason we chose to go that direction was for the safety of our customers and our vendors,” Parks and Recreation Director Sarah Sandquist said. “We felt it was important to offer a virtual market, and it wasn’t the right time to be out in a physical setting at the beginning of May.”
The idea of a virtual market originated last year for the winter farmers market.
“The thought came from just based off of the low foot traffic we get at winter market, we were kicking around ideas of, how do we do this virtually where someone preorders something and picks it up?” Sandquist said. “We found a software (Local Food Marketplace) that allows us to do that.”
Sandquist said other markets across the nation are operating in a similar way.
“The closest one locally doing it is Bloomington, so we took quite a few tips from them on how they executed, and they are using that same software,” Sandquist said.
Through the software, customers can place orders and choose delivery or pickup. Although the in-person market has returned, the virtual market is still an option.
Sandquist said the virtual market continues to be a success.
“We sold out orders the first two weeks,” she said. “We had the capacity to accept 400 orders each week, and in the first two weeks, we sold out on that number. The third week, we didn’t quite sell out but we still had over 300 orders submitted. We are continuing to have that as an option throughout the year.”
With the market having returned to in-person shopping, the virtual market will be available for home delivery only.
“We do still offer that option to preorder and have home delivery for the farmers market items,” Sandquist said.
Orders must be placed online at fishersfarmersmarket.localfoodmarketplace.com. Hours are from 9 a.m. Sunday to noon Wednesday. A $10 delivery fee is charged. Orders arrive by no-contact delivery on Saturdays. Most of the market’s vendors participate in the online option.
As for the in-person market, vendors are spread out and extend all the way around the Municipal Drive circle at the Nickel Plate Ampitheater, 6 Municipal Dr., to ensure proper social distancing. All vendors are required to wear masks, and attendees are highly encouraged to wear masks. Food samples are not offered, and customers can’t touch products on display. Kids’ activities have been suspended, and dogs are not allowed.
“This isn’t the time to gather on the Amp lawn,” Sandquist said. “We won’t have picnic tables set up. It’s purely a market to come and purchase your stuff and then head home.”
The market runs from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. An 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. time slot is reserved for high-risk populations.
For more, visit playfishers.com/farmersmarket.
The Walking Waffle Co., Circle Kombucha, Indie Coffee Roasters, Blackhawk Winery and Vineyard, Viking Lamb, Hidden Acres, The Bearded Baker, Le Petit Gateau, Wildflower Ridge Honey, Old Major Market, Harvest Coffee & Tea, Chef Bricker’s Brick House Vinaigrettes, Bob’s Incredible Products, Our Garden Soap, Simply Flowers, Gluten Free Creations, Groomsville Popcorn, Grandpa’s Jerky, Java House Cold Brew, GG’s Kitchen, Marta’s Goody’s, Gallagher Farms, Kincaid’s Meat Market Fishers, AW Gourmet Dog Treats, 5280 Bistro, Tailored Toddies, Lazy Labs Bakery, The Bubble Tea Lady, Louise’s Sweets, Mathoos Eggrolls, First Fruits Family Farms, Wesson’s Canine Bakery, Masters Home Preserves, Sweets Bri, Grace & Truth Farms, Guacamole and More, My Dad’s Sweet Corn, Rose and Lois, Artisano’s Oils & Spices, Skillington Farms, Dragonwood, Twenty Two Juicery & Smoothie Bar, Johnnie Raber Family Farm, Lisa’s Pie Shop, Samano’s Taqueria, Lindy’s Cookies, Generations Pie Company, Becker Farms, VanAntwerps Farm Market, Morehouse Pork, Lil Dumplings, Fair Farms and Produce, Lick Creek Flower Co., Maple Run Farm, Compean & Sons, Bay Area Bistro, Buckcreek Flower Farm, Ash & Elm Cider Co. and Pig’s Tale Charcuterie.