Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Columbia Farmers Market has remained open, albeit with a few changes: Vendors are more spaced out, use of credit and debit cards is encouraged instead of cash and you'll find most people wearing gloves and masks. But if you are looking to limit your social contact and still get goods from some of your favorite producers, the market has a new way to do it.
On Saturdays between 8am and noon, products pre-ordered from certain farmers' market vendors will be available for curbside pickup at Columbia's Agricultural Park. Corrina Smith, the market's executive director, says that the curbside pickup option will help some of these small businesses survive.
"For me, the most important thing, and the most rewarding thing, is to see my vendors be successful," she says. "This is helping them continue to making a living."
The Columbia Farmers Market website now has a page dedicated solely to Saturday pre-orders for curbside pickup. Customers order through and pay their vendor or vendors of choice, such as Hemme Brothers Creamery, Missouri Legacy Beef, Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co., Pasta La Fata or Uprise Bakery. Those orders are then confirmed to the market, who will gather all orders for a certain customer and make them available at a selected pickup time on Saturday. All orders through vendors must be placed and ordered by noon on Friday to qualify for curbside pickup; if a vendor still takes your order after noon, customers must walk to the vendor's booth at the market for pickup. SNAP customers can pay farmers' market staff at pickup.
Some of the market's vendors also are offering online sales and deliveries that are separate from the market; a full list can be found on the curbside pickup page.
For those who still want to visit the market to buy their own goods, they can, but like most places, there are some different guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The market is restricted to seniors, expectant mothers and at-risk patients from 8 to 8:30am on Saturdays to reduce their exposure to others. Sampling and preparing food on-site has also been eliminated for the time being. And to be extra safe, the market is limiting the amount of folks at a given time in accordance with the state's stay-at-home order.
"I'm extremely proud of our staff that have completely shifted gears," Smith says.
The Columbia Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8am to noon.
Columbia Farmers Market, 1769 W. Ash St., Columbia, Missouri, columbiafarmersmarket.org