CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote from Mary Ann Pagano to a different source. The article has been updated to reflect the proper attributions. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
Instead of shutting down at the height of the pandemic, the Carrboro Farmers' Market has been able to stay open thanks to collaboration between the market and the community.
The Carrboro Farmers' Market board worked closely with the Orange County Health Department to establish new health and safety guidelines.
"We have really good guidance from the School of Public Health, from epidemiologists, and so we immediately, really so quickly, established a safe environment to shop in that was outside because we had to," Mary Ann Pagano, an operator of Three Waters Farm, said.
Farmers at the market are continually adapting to make it safe and easy for customers to shop at the market.
"We are taking all the precautions that we can," Kevin Meehan, co-owner of the Turtle Run Farm in Graham, said. "My main concern is that I want my customers to feel safe."
Some farmers have been working overtime to accommodate their customers. Many now do pre-sales and drop off deliveries that most did not do before.
"Everyone is working all day in the field and working all night on the computer interfacing with systems they had not interfaced with before," Pagano said.
"We do presales so that people can purchase in advance what they buy, like lamb or baked goods, and you can also preorder coffee so that your drink is ready when you get there," she said.
Despite many safety changes in the market, not every vendor went back this season to sell.
"We are limited in the number of vendors, but I think we have found a way to accommodate everybody who wants to come," Patrick Mulkey, who runs the Stanford Family Farm in Chapel Hill, said. "We have a number of vendors who have chosen to either go online, or on the farm or not participate at all."
The limited number of vendors comes from the social distancing guidelines implemented throughout the market.
"We roped off one parking lot and we moved into that parking lot and moved 30 vendors. In the other years, we are packed in like sardines," Meehan said.
Besides social distancing, the market has implemented additional safety measures including designating one entrance and one exit to minimize cross traffic between customers, requiring guests to wear face coverings and encouraging visitors to bring less people to the market.
"Instead of mom, dad and the kids coming, it's maybe just mom," Mulkey said.
Despite changes and new procedures, the pandemic seems to have brought more people to the market.
"I have a constant line," Meehan said. "I even try and get there a little earlier in the morning before the line starts forming but it is a losing battle. I will get there at quarter to 6 in the morning, and I've got a line already and people are getting there super early because you want to get to the farmers market early to get the good stuff."
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