The Blacksburg Farmers Market has been working diligently to safely keep the market open in the ever-changing landscape of COVID-related policies and guidelines. For many vendors, the farmers market is their livelihood, and like many restaurants and other service-industry jobs, the market was at risk of closing altogether if changes weren’t made. Market Director, Ian Littlejohn, implemented several precautionary measures such as spacing vendors, providing hand-washing stations, eliminating samples, requiring a six-foot safe distancing rule, and eventually limiting 10 customers in the market at any given time.
In an effort to maintain vendors’ market sales and provide an easy, contact-free browsing experience for customers, the market signed on with Lulu’s Local Food, a web platform that allows market vendors to list their weekly product offerings so customers can order and pay online. Those orders are then packaged by the vendors and ready for customers to pick up at the Saturday market. To date, 19 vendors have listed their products on the site. A small customer membership fee directly supports the Market. Other vendors also take pre-orders directly from their websites or Facebook pages.
Each week, the Market relies on two shifts of volunteers to help manage the 10 customer limit, and the pre-orders help to significantly reduce the amount of extra browsing time for customers, allowing more customers to access the market. As more vendors become comfortable with the online format, selection and quantity of items will continue to increase. The market hopes to continue providing this service to customers for the long-term.
If you are interested in supporting the Blacksburg Farmers Market by pre-ordering your next purchase, please visit https://blacksburgfarmersmarket.luluslocalfood.com/
If you are interested in supporting vendors who are experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic, a GoFundMe page is still open for donations to the Vendor Relief Fund.