MEDINA — The Canal Village Farmers’ Market could not have had better weather for opening day with blue skies, sunshine and moderate temperatures.

Market volunteers and vendors were happy to be back for the summer season and welcomed their regular and new customers.

The market looks essentially the same, with the colorful canopies and vendor tables. However, COVID-19 has forced a few new protocols.

One noticeable change that is not COVID-19 related concerns the hours of operation. The market now starts one hour later at 9 a.m. and closes one hour later at 2 p.m.

“Over the past several years, we’ve studied our trends and customers have asked if the market could remain open later to allow better access,” said Gail Miller, market manager. “We hope that these new hours make it possible for more people to come to the market.”

Other changes are COVID-19 related. Customers will notice that the entire market area is cordoned off with two designated entrances.

“The market has two identified entrances this year to greet customers, offer hand sanitizer, and explain our market guidelines,” Miller said. “Being an open air market makes it safer than being in an enclosed space. When everyone comes through the entrances, we are able to ensure that there are not too many people in the market at the same time so that maintaining social distancing requirements is easy.”

Market personnel and vendors emphasize that if shoppers are sick, they should stay home.

Face masks are required to enter into the market. Vendors and staff are also be required to wear face masks at all times and customers are encouraged to move quickly around the market.

Miller reported that on opening day, patrons were kind and responsible about following the new guidelines.

The vendors still have their products on display allowing customers to see what is available and ask questions. Customers point to what they would like to purchase and the vendor helps them. Only vendors and their staff are allowed to handle products. Customers may not touch produce or products until they are purchased.

Social distancing is also required with customers maintaining a 6 foot distance from vendor’s stands, staff and other customers. Reminders are positioned around the market.

Food demos are not also not allowed. Food items are available for purchase but must be treated as take-out and consumed off premises.

“Farmers’ markets everywhere have worked hard over the years to encourage people to gather, linger, eat and converse as a community,” she said. “Unfortunately, we can’t do any of that right now, but we look forward to the day when we can again have a market as a gathering place. Until then, CVFM will abide by the state rules and guidelines for a safe environment.”

Miller said that products available each Saturday are listed every week on the market’s Facebook page — Canal Village Farmers Market.

“As the season progresses, we will have our usual wide variety of offerings — vegetables and fruit, beef and pork products, pies and cookies, vegetable, herb, and flower plants, face masks, and each week a different local winery, meadery, or distillery,” she said.

State guidelines initially prohibited some vendors such as artists and crafters. However, Miller said that this has recently changed.

“Current modifications to state guidelines now allow artists and crafters, so we will definitely be adding them back at the market starting this Saturday,” she said.

According to Miller, for anyone who is uncomfortable coming into the market, has a mobility issue or just needs to be in and out fast, there are new options available.

“An online pre-order platform will be available very soon,” Miller said. “This will enable a customer to select from vendor products offered online. The process will be very simple and user-friendly — just go to the online store, open an account, select products, and pay (cash only) when you pick up at the back of the market building on Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.”

The market’s Facebook page will have additional details soon.

“While most market transactions continue to use cash, several of our vendors are able to accept cashless transactions on site,” said Miller.

The market accepts Senior Coupons, WIC, SNAP, and Fresh Connect Checks, and will soon be able to offer Double Up Food Bucks to SNAP recipients. More information is available at the Market Manager’s Tent.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1