Ann Arbor Farmers Market sees "silver lining" in pandemic as shoppers flock to local food

Since reopening on May 9, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market has seen steadily increasing business and is anticipating more demand from customers.
"As the word gets out bit by bit, we are seeing more customers come out to shop and support the market," says Stefanie Stauffer, the market's manager.


Noting that there are no official numbers on how many people have visited thus far, Stauffer says she has heard from vendors who have been happily surprised with the increased demand for their produce.

"I heard from a strawberry vendor who couldn't believe they sold out at 8:15 a.m," Stauffer says. "Another strawberry vendor told me they sold out by noon and that was a first ever for them."

 

Stauffer believes the COVID-19 pandemic has had a "silver lining" for local farmers and that there is renewed excitement about the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. She describes it as two-pronged.

 

"Of course, people are clamoring to be healthy and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. But they also are recognizing the importance of supporting our local farmers who may have taken losses during the pandemic," she says.

 

The market's reopening has been a gradual transition. In May, customers could only preorder items from vendors and ask for curbside pickup or walk-up service.

 

Currently, customers can still go online and make preorders. Those who prefer to shop in person will notice a number of health and safety measures. Those include handwashing stations, space between vendors, and well-marked signage showing the direction that foot traffic should flow.

 

Additionally, the market's office is only open for staff and vendors.

 

"We're really working to have less traffic through the office space so that everyone can be safer," Stauffer says. "So now if people need to get their tokens or need info, we have a walk-up window that has been working out really well."

 

All vendors are required to wear masks, but there is no such stipulation for visitors due to the open-air nature of the premises. Stauffer is still "strongly encouraging" all customers to cover up, noting that there are a number of vendors who are older and could be at increased risk. She says some market vendors have been selling masks, should a customer forget their mask at home or simply feel the need to pick up a spare.

 

While artisans have now been able to return to the market, popular food truck rallies and public events remain on hold.

 

"Fingers crossed that things like the taco trucks and our kids' events can make a comeback, but in the meantime we are going to continue to do our best to balance everyone's needs and safety," Stauffer says.

 

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is located at 315 Detroit St. in Ann Arbor and operates from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.

 

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Farmers Market.

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