Times are still tough and uncertain, restaurants are closed unless offering takeaway, and despite reassurances and limits on buying, supermarkets are still low on stock. There is a lot of uncertainty for the hospitality industry and the only thing we can be certain of is that we will be speaking about the restaurant and bar scene in terms of before and after this crisis. But what about the producers, the farmers, the artisans and the growers who are providing us with a direct source of food now that we are no longer importing from overseas? We all tend to forget that food comes from somewhere.
Farmers' markets are more important than ever, operating as an essential service; a direct link between farmer and consumer; and champions of agriculture, responsible farming practice and sustainability. You're guaranteed a healthier food economy, better tasting food and an appreciation of produce when you support farmers' markets. They are still running, only with a few changes. Here is what it means for you.
1 Locations have been changed
Farmers' markets have been held once a month at the Collingwood Children's Farm or Abbotsford Convent for at least ten years, but to protect the general public and stallholders, these markets have been relocated to either the Coburg or Alphington locations.
2 Farmers markets are now cashless
To keep interactions contactless, for the first time ever, you'll be all right if you forget to stop by an ATM on the way to the market.
3 Hand sanitiser at the gate
You'll be required to use the provided hand sanitiser at the gates before entering and encouraged to wash your hands thoroughly at the hand-washing stations at each market from now on.
4 Limited number of people allowed per household
To prevent crowds and adhere to physical distancing requirements, it is recommended that only one person per household enter the market at any time. There is obviously some leeway here; no one expects you to leave your toddler at the gate completely unsupervised.
5 There will be queues
This has everything to do with only allowing one person per household and to maintain physical distancing. There will be a limit to how many people are allowed in the market at any time, so there is a one-in-one-out policy in place. Think of it like a nightclub, only during the day, with lots of fruit and really sensible shoes.
6 No toilets
This is 100 per cent a hygiene issue. Please don't ask us to spell it out for you. There will be access to toilets in case of an emergency (yes, your child counts, but you're also discouraged to bring them to the market at this time).
7 Physical distancing
This is not just for you, but for stallholders as well. Stalls will no longer be side by side, but a metre apart. If you're looking for your favourite stallholder, they might have been moved to a different location. Don't give up.
8 No touching
During this state of emergency, you are no longer allowed to fondle produce. Instead, you'll have to ask each stallholder to handle your produce for you. Patience is required.
9 No samples
Stallholders are no longer allowed to offer tastes and samples for the sake of everyone's safety.
10 No clowns
OK, so there aren't usually clowns at farmers markets, but there are entertainers, buskers and face painters who are no longer allowed to operate. Sadly, self-washing stations are gone as well, which means there may be more waste on site.
So there it is. Next time you think you can't brave the lines of people at the supermarket, wait it out to the weekend and check out the Melbourne Farmers Market website and Victorian Farmers' Market Association website for weekly locations. We guarantee you a better time and even better quality food.