Businesses in Kentucky and throughout the country continue to walk a fine line when it comes to welcoming customers, while also enforcing state and local coronavirus guidelines such as the wearing of face masks.
New restrictions and requirements at the Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green so far haven’t hurt direct-to-consumer sales. On a recent weekday, vendors could be seen from the road wearing masks and talking to customers about their fresh fruits and vegetables.
Many of the stands would normally be inside, but because of the pandemic, tents have been set up outside to spread people around and encourage social distancing. Nathan Howell is a co-founder of the Bowling Green Community Farmer’s Market and a vendor with Need More Acres farm in Scottsville.
“The community has really come out and supported us as individual farmers and we are truthfully grateful for that, because we didn’t know what would happen,” he said.
Howell said direct to consumer sales during the pandemic have been even better than before coronavirus caused businesses to shut down and adjust to new health and safety standards.
Susan Warrell, the Bowling Green Community Farmer’s Market manager, said it hasn’t been difficult to get customers or vendors to wear the face masks, but she’s prepared to do what she has to in order to keep the market open.
“Y’know if people don’t like it, I’m prepared to take that, take the heat too because we need to do what we need to do to stay open,” she said. “We need to keep the farmers farming. We need to keep local food available for our customers.”
Warrell said most customers were wearing a face-mask even before the market began requiring them. She said while she wasn’t sure how well the market would do when businesses began shutting down due to COVID-19, she’s still seen the same loyal customers, and some new ones in recent months.
“They feel more safe here. They feel like it’s a safer product, it doesn’t go through as many hands,” she said. “They know the people and a lot of these people were shopping here for years before this anyway. They have personal relationships with their vendors.”
Warrell said it’s been encouraging to see people in the community continue to buy local, and support farmers in the region.