Farmers markets switch to online orders and drive-thru pickup

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Like many businesses, farmers markets are adapting to social distancing guidelines. The Grandin Village Farmers Market tried out its first pandemic adaptation Saturday morning.

“For our very first market, this is a great turnout, so I think it’s only going to increase from here,” said Kelly Key, Program Coordinator for the Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP).

Key says Grandin has taken the physicality almost completely out of the market by making customers pre-order everything online.

“Customers never leave their car,” Key said. “They just drive up, we write their name on their windshield for their orders, and then they drive through and pick up everything from each vendor that they’ve purchased from.”

“We get a notice of everything to pack for each customer,” described Kat Johnson, one of the vendors at Grandin Village Farmers Market. “And so, we’ve packed them in individual bags with peoples’ names on them.”

Johnson is the produce manager with Fields Edge. She and her co-workers actually set up for the first time in Grandin on Saturdya and said the precautions taken by organizers were effective for both customers and vendors.

“We feel safe being here as workers,” Johnson said. “You know, the organizations has really set it up in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s crossing the line.”

Open air markets like these are meant to be interactive and encourage support of local vendors. Vendors and customers, alike, seem willing to sacrifice a bit of the interaction for the sake of buying local and eating local.

“Farmers markets are special because of that community aspect to it, and even though we don’t get to necessarily hang out at the market like we used to, we still get to see each other and still feel that connection,” said Key.

The success of today’s drive-thru leaves vendors confident that they can keep this going until the pandemic is over.

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