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Photograph: Catherine Crawford

NYC farmers markets stay open with strict new social distancing protocols

You can now order your farmers' market produce online for pickup.

By
Collier Sutter
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Governor Cuomo made New York City farmers markets an essential business in the city while the entire state went on pause back in March. As a result, the show has gone on for many markets across the boroughs, including the beloved year-round markets that New Yorkers flock to in Union Square and Grand Army Plaza.

Many open-air farmers markets remain open to provide New Yorkers with fresh goods from regional farmers, fishers and bakers. Now, to make shopping for fresh produce and goods at your favorite market even easier, greenmarkets are allowing folks to preorder goods online for market pickup.

GrowNYC, the group behind popular farmers markets like Union Square, Tompkins Square, Tribeca, Grand Army Plaza, Fort Greene Park, Forest Hills among many others, has a google doc on their website where shoppers can browse vendors. There, New Yorkers can find vendors in alphabetical order, with a column sharing which are allowing for preorders.

As some NYC markets have had to limit the number of customers shopping at any given time to allow for safe social distancing, lines have formed down the block. This pickup option could relieve stress this summer for both shoppers and staff as people can more quickly get their orders and head out.

If you don't feel like bracing the crowds every weekend for produce, you can also grow your own edible garden for veggie and herb staples with the help of your local greenmarket. Grow NYC's Catherine Crawford tells us, as Gothamites spend more time at home than ever before, there has been an uptick in sales at markets for at-home container gardening supplies. "People have been buying more vegetable and herb starts across Greenmarkets," she says. You can find an area on their site with information and lessons for gardeners at home.

This article has been updated from its original with new information.

GrowNYC has also ramped up safety measures to comply with social distancing guidelines.

In order to safeguard the health and well-being of market visitors and staff, they've banned customers from handling produce (only gloved staff), suspended all sampling by vendors, supplied hand sanitizer at every market and barricaded most food from direct public access with plexiglass.

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The organization has come up with some additional precautions, in hopes of avoiding overcrowding and health risks.

Market-goers will most likely have to wait in line at the entrance for their turn to shop, explains a statement from GrowNYC. "We will be monitoring traffic into and out of the market space and customers may have to wait in line to enter to ensure the safety of everyone," says a representative. 

Farmers Market sign

GrowNYC

On top of limiting the number of customers able to shop at any given time, all vendor tents will be be placed at least 10 feet away from one another. Additional demarcations will also help shoppers stay at least six feet apart when approaching booths to pay. 

line of people waiting at Farmers Market

GrowNYC

Customers are also now encouraged to not use cash.

"Finally, whenever possible, please use card or electronic payment to purchase products. For your convenience, download our app, Union Square Greenmarket, to see which farmers are in attendance and what products are available before you shop!" Union Square Greenmarket adds via Instagram.

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We want to thank all of you for your patience and support during these times. #ICYMI Governor Cuomo's recent Executive Order designated our Greenmarkets and other food access sites as "essential businesses." This means it is critical for the neighborhoods we serve to keep these sites open for as long as we can. It is also critical that we make these spaces as safe as possible for customers, farmers, and staff. In an effort to maintain crowd control and promote social distancing at market, we are implementing some new measures. Going forward, our new hours of operation are 8AM-4PM! The market will have three entrances: 15th Street, 17th Street and Broadway, and Park and 17th Street. We will be monitoring traffic into and out of the market space and customers may have to wait in line to enter to ensure the safety of everyone. Only farm staff will handle products: shoppers can point to what they want and staff will bag it for you. Finally, whenever possible, please use card or electronic payment to purchase products. For your convenience, download our app, Union Square Greenmarket, to see which farmers are in attendance and what products are available before you shop! To read more about the essential services we are providing and the safety protocols we've put in place, please visit the link in our bio. #gmktnyc 📸: @eater_ny

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