Local farmers markets adjust to social distancing requirements as season begins

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – Local farmers markets are adjusting to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by eliminating the need for crowded venues.

Jonesborough Locally Grown, which oversees the farmers market in Tennessee’s Oldest Town, has moved its seasonal Saturday market to online orders.

Those wanting to support local markets are able to order through the Jonesborough Locally Grown website every Wednesday starting April 29th. Orders will then be picked up on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 12 noon.

Rachel Slaughter is a board member of Jonesborough Locally Grown and owns Rain Crow Farm.

She told News Channel 11 that many local farmers have taken a hit due to the coronavirus shutting down other markets and causing restaurants to cancel supply agreements.

“We’re really hopeful the community will rally around this market, as one of the only markets in the area,” Slaughter said. “We hope to be able to move, you know, what we would be moving in other places. So it’s – it will be a big lifeline for our business for sure.”

Slaughter said she believes Tennessee Governor Bill Lee allowing his safer-at-home order to expire won’t affect the Jonesborough Farmer Market starting its season online.

“I think even if we re-open at the state level, I think there’s still going to be a lot of fear for a lot of people to be in large groups. And so, we want to make sure everybody feels safe, and everybody feels they have a healthy way to get local food.”

Slaughter told News Channel 11 that Jonesborough Locally Grown hopes to reopen the Saturday market beside the Historic Courthouse at some point during the season.

Other markets in Tennessee

The Kingsport Farmers Market usually opens in April, but so far this year, the market facility has been quiet.

A statement on the market’s website indicates that the 2020 market season will be delayed until at least May 2due to the COVID-19 situation.

Right now, the Kingsport Farmers Market has a detailed Google Doc of vendors pinned to the top of its Facebook page. Not only does the document list how to contact the vendors and what they have to offer, but also pickup and delivery options.

The Johnson City Farmers Market has not announced any plans for the market’s 2020 season. In a Facebook message, the farmers market indicated they don’t have an opening date set yet, but hope to have an announcement soon.

Southwest Virginia markets adjust to safer-at-home

Farmers markets in Southwest Virginia have also made adjustments to follow Governor Ralph Northam’s safer-at-home executive order.

Right now, that order is slated to expire on June 10.

One of the most popular markets in the region is Abingdon’s.

The market is usually open Saturday mornings from April through October, and on Tuesday afternoons from April through September.

Due to COVID-19, they’ve opened up a Facebook group, called Abingdon Farmers Market Direct. Vendors are able to post what they have available in the group and arrange sales and pickup with customers. The market’s email newsletter is also keeping shoppers updated about where things stand with the market.

The Marion Farmers Market has also turned to using Facebook to facilitate orders.

Those looking to support local farmers in Marion can either pre-order from vendors for pickup on scheduled market days, or browse the market “curbside.”

Its next market date is May 2.

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