Safe farmers market
Event returns to La Grange with masks, distancing
By Steve Metsch
The first-ever farmers market in La Grange held with social distancing rules in place went pretty well, buyers and sellers said.
The weekly event made its debut Thursday, June 4. It had been delayed several weeks because of the pandemic and concerns about the coronavirus possibly being transmitted within a large crowd.
Katie Yoder, of Martha’s Kitchen, safely returns change to a customer using a basket at the 2020 debut of the farmers market in downtown La Grange. Photo by Steve Metsch.
A sign at the entrance, located at Harris and La Grange Road, listed what visitors could and could not do.
Masks are required, the sign said. If you’re not feeling well, you should stay home. Six feet of social distancing was recommended. Lines were taped on the sidewalk.
The sign asks hat one member per household attend, but that rule did not appear to befollowed closely. A rule that suggested using credit, debit or cash as “no change will be offered,” was bent a bit.
Katie Yoder at Martha’s Kitchen did offer change for cash, but she put it in a basket and the customer took the change from the basket. Her hand never touched a customer’s hand.
“Everybody has been very nice and considerate,” said Yoder, who was minding the store for her sister, Martha Petersheim, who was at another farmers market that day.
Fans of the farmers market were happy it finally returned to La Grange.
Greg Capps, 66, said he took a bus from his home in Cicero. He was pleased with the “very good” social distancing, but would prefer mask-free shopping.
“I wish I could take this thing off,” he said. “I hear what the World Health Organization says. ‘You have to wear a mask.’ Now they say you don’t need to wear a mask … But I’m just happy to be here.”
The farmers market, presented by the La Grange Business Association, drew a steady flow of shoppers, LGBA volunteer Karen Stoelinga said.
“It’s been fantastic … I think people are excited to be out,” Stoelinga said.
Stoelinga and her daughter, Katie, were busy providing squirts of free hand sanitizer to guests at the entrance of the market, andreminding them to wear masks. The market was cordoned off with yellow tape, allowing one entrance and one exit near the parking garage behind the village hall.
Trisha Stremski and sister-in-law Kerri Lenzi were there with Stemski’s daughters, Sofia, 10, and Josie, 7. They walked from Brookfield, arriving around 10:30 a.m.in order to beat the crowd.
“If it was too crowded, (we) would have left,” Stremski said.
Sofia and Josie were hoping to cool off with lemonade. But Josie did wonder “how I can drink it with my mask?”
Visitors to the La Grange Market took CDC recommendations to heart by wearing masks on a warm June 4. Photo by Steve Metsch.
A vendor, Curt Tidey, of Tidey Farms in Berrien Center, Mich., was pleased with the first farmers market of 2020, but he is worried about future sessions if the pandemic is still forcing restrictions.
“There’s been a nice flow of people,” Tidey said. “Everybody’s been good about the (social) distancing part, which I think everyone understands by now. We’ve been doing this for two months. We just need it to end, so we can go back to normal. Right now, we can do this with the few items we have.”
He is wondering how the market will operate of social distancing is still required by Sept. 1, when he will have much more fresh produce for sale.
“It’s going to be almost impossible for everything to be pre-bagged and not letting you, the customer, touch it,” Tidey said.
“The cantaloupe, the watermelon, the sweet corn, things that have an outer skin that you’re not going to consume, I think you can touch that,” Tidey said. “Green beans, you can’t touch. Peppers. Zucchini. Cucumbers. You can’t touch those because you can eat the skin of those.”
Tidey will find out soon enough. Zucchini and cucumbers should be available in three weeks or so, he said.
The famers market in La Grange is scheduled to run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Thursday through October 29. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/lagrangefarmersmarket
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