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Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market makes a physically-distanced return
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could stop the Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market from opening its 2020 season.
On a beautifully sunny Saturday, the market took over a portion of Pelissier Street at Maiden Lane with 25 vendors offering fresh vegetables, gourmet coffee and homemade soap among other offerings.
"I am completely amazed at how patient everyone’s been," says Steve Green, the general manager of the Downtown Windsor Famers’ Market. "The lineups have been a little long this morning but, everyone seems to be very happy that there’s something to do and that the market is open."
In order to open the market, Green reached out to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to help implement new measures to adhere to public health guidelines. Two health unit inspectors attended the event to ensure new rules were being followed.
Instead of the usual free flowing market, this year a one-way path was created on Pelissier St. to allow people to rotate through and visit the different vendors while maintaining the recommended two-metre distance between other people.
There were also two designated entrance locations where market-goers were greeted by volunteers and offered hand sanitizer and masks.
Green adds capacity was capped to 75 people in the designated market area at any one time.
"We had to re-design the flow. We had to change how the vendors were going to be there. We had to re-invent our programs such as our chefs table and our kids table and our live music — all that had to change," says Green.
For market regulars like Little Foot Foods, some of the usual amenities had to be dropped.
"We’re not doing samples and we’re not selling hot food which is our staple usually at our farmers’ market," says Rachael Myers, co-owner of the local business which is known for its pierogi.
Myers says the market is a key driver of business and an opportunity to connect with customers.
While many attended the market with masks and plexiglass dividers were put up at tents to help create the necessary separation — Myers went with plastic wrap to help maintain a physical distance.
"I liked the Saran wrap because it means I can talk to people and they can see my face," says Myers. "I don’t have to wear a mask because we have a barrier between us so, that just kind of makes it more like before."
Claudia Alberelli was one of the roughly 2,000 people who attended the market.
Alberelli says she was eager to enjoy the sunny day and was happy to see how the market was organized.
"It seems like everyone is wearing masks at the booths which is good and then everyone seems to have their hand sanitizer setup and they make you hand sanitize when you come in so, that’s reassuring," says Alberelli.
Green says he did receive some concern about opening the market as cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported, but hopes the measures rolled out on Saturday help put more people at ease.
According to Green, the 25 vendor spots were filled very quickly and hopes to add another five vendors for the second weekend.
The market is set to run every Saturday from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. along Pelissier St. until October 31.