Farmers market vendors, organizers adapting during coronavirus outbreak

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LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — Warmer weather is on its way. Now that the Farmers Market has opened, crops like tomatoes and watermelons would be ready to buy.

“Well, I think people are really ready to get out because everyone has been in the house for so long and were really excited to provide a safe way to get healthy things that people need, ” said Katherine Lucas, a coordinator at the Hitching Lot Farmers Market.

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Part of keeping customers safe at the Farmer’s Market was that they only allowed 10 vendors. This would help adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Lucas booked vendors for the market. She said they would add on when more produce is available.

“I don’t know if anybody is really timid I think the only ones that haven’t come yet are the ones that are the ones that just don’t have enough stuff to sell yet,” said Lucas.

That’s the case for Melvin Ellis, the owner of Mayhew Tomato Farm.

“I am going to participate in the Columbus Farmers Market, but it’s going to be a little more limited then it has been in the past,” said Ellis. “We’re a little behind on tomatoes, and up until the past couple of days we’ve had an abnormally cool spring.”

Ellis was a yearly vendor — but he prefered to sell at the farm.

“And I don’t want to put down the farmers market at all I think its a wonderful thing, just this situation has made it where we have to be a little more cognitive and there are some things you have to do and some changes you have to make in your business practices as a result,” said Ellis.

Lucas said they’re making sure to follow all guidelines recommended by state health officials to ensure safe shopping for vendors and customers.

“I would tell them to come on out you know its an open-air market, its outside, everybody there is wearing masks and gloves,” said Ellis. “Nobody is touching the produce and we don’t have extra pets and kids and stuff coming around right now, so its really about the safest place you can go and we are making sure that people are staying 6 feet apart and vendors are facing the parking lot.”

Ellis said that he will be at the market on Saturdays.

When more restrictions are lifted, he will start to go to the market on Mondays and Thursdays.

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