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COVID-19 and Farmers Markets

COVID-19 and Farmers Markets

Ohio Farmers Market Network

COVID-19 and Your Farmers Market

2021 Updates

Farmers market operators, farmers and food producers care deeply about one another and the communities they serve. The rigorous regulations that normally govern farmers markets exist to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, meaning that you, farmers market managers and vendors, are well versed and prepared to enact precautions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2020 was challenging, to say the least. But thanks to your commitment to safety, Ohio farmers markets rose to the challenge and remained open as essential businesses and key food access points. In fact, Ohio farmers markets facilitated $416,622 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars and redeemed $304,570 in Produce Perks, Ohios nutrition incentive program.

While our customer counts and vendor participation may have dwindled a bit, you successfully implemented strategies and procedures that ensured safe, responsible and respected places of business. You learned to be flexible, expanding your audience and skillset in the process, and likely developed a back-up plan for last-minute changes. Together, we built a support network where you could share your thoughts, feelings, and new skills with fellow managers, vendors and community leaders.

With vaccinations underway and now available to all Ohioans, state guidance is less stringent compared to 2020. Like other businesses, farmers markets need only maintain a few standard procedures in 2021. In line with the Ohio Department of Health Director s Order dated April 5, 2021, farmers markets should maintain the following procedures:


Directors Order


Recommended Best Practice

Facial Coverings (Masks)

●    All individuals in the State of Ohio shall wear facial coverings at all times when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their family or household.


●    CDC  Face  Covering  Guidance


Facial Coverings (Masks) (continued)

●    Where possible, post clearly visible signage at all entrances requiring all persons entering to wear a facial covering and engage in social distancing at all times in or on the grounds or premises.

●    Review Directors Order for exemptions to facial coverings.


Social Distancing Requirements

●    Where possible, designate with signage, tape or by other means

six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance.


●    Use tape or chalk to indicate 6 foot distances in and throughout the market space.

○    Example  -  spray  paint

○    Example  -  vendor  lines

○    Example  -  vendor  lines

○    Example -  vendor  tents


●    Have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers.

●    Hand washing or sanitization upon entry.

●    Routine disinfection of high-contact surfaces, desk workstations, restrooms and equipment.


●    Provide handwashing stations for customers and vendors where possible. At a minimum, provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for customers to

use prior to entering the market space and throughout.

○    Mobile  hand  washing  station

○    Inexpensive,  non-mechanical

 hand  wash  station

○    How to Build a  Low-Cost  Hand

 Washing  Station  from

 University of Minnesota

○    Foot  pedal  activated  hand

 washing  station

○    Ohio manufacturers website

 for PPE

○    Example -  Columbia Farmers




Sanitation (continued)


○    How to Build a  Hand  Washing

 Station  for  Under  $20

○    Hand  Washing  Units  by  NC

 State University

Food and Beverages

●    It is recommended that areas be designated for table and seating for food and drink consumption. Tables should be six feet apart and seat no more than 10 persons per table. Food and drink should be consumed while seated.

●    Unpackaged foods and on-site food preparation and sales may resume so long as the vendor is properly licensed.

●    Sampling may resume.



In addition to the Directors Orders, the Ohio Farmers Market Network, together with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and other state partners, recommends maintaining best practices including, but not limited to:

  • Limit crowds by staggering entry to provide for social distancing of customers.

●    Require space between vendor stands of at least 6 feet.

○    Example  -  Holly  Springs  Farmers  Market

●    Cancel all extracurricular activities including music, childrens activities, cooking demos, etc. if crowd size and/or social distancing cannot be maintained.

●    Ensure that aisles are at least 12 feet wide to provide for ample distancing around vendor spaces.

●    Consider using tape or chalk to indicate 6-foot distances in and throughout the market space.

●    Consider making the market one directional, combined with one entry and one exit.

○    Example  -  Granville  Farmers  Market

○    Example  -  Columbia  Farmers  Market


Employees, volunteers and vendors:

  • Sick employees, volunteers and vendors must stay home and not return until they are free of fever for at least 72 hours without fever-reducing medication  and  improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)  and, at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

●    Those who appear to be ill upon arrival to market or become sick during the day should be sent home immediately.

●    Clean your hands frequently, ideally between each customer transaction. Follow  CDC

 recommendations for cleaning your hands.

●    Designate one person to handle food and another person to handle payment transactions when possible.

Vendor policies:

  • All vendors must sanitize their stands regularly, primarily wiping down tables, terminals, cash boxes, etc. Familiarize yourself with the  CDC Guidelines  to clean and disinfect surfaces.

○    CFSAs  Guide  to  When  to  Clean,  Sanitize,  or  Disinfect

●    Add an empty table to the front of vendors tent to assist with 6-foot distancing.

○    Example  -  Minnesota  Farmers'  Market  Association

○    Example  -  Columbia  Farmers’  Market

○    Example  -  Holly  Springs  Farmers  Market

●    Recommend using only materials that can be immediately washed and sanitized after use.

●    Clean your hands frequently, ideally between each customer transaction. Follow  CDC

 recommendations for cleaning your hands.

●    Consider purchasing a contactless chip reader to process customer sales. Customers:

●    Encourage customers to stay home and not return until they are free of fever for at least

72 hours without fever-reducing medication and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)  and, at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

●    Encourage shoppers to prioritize food purchasing and discontinue social gatherings.

  • Discourage shoppers from touching products they do not intend to purchase.

●    Wear a  cloth face covering as recommended by CDC  guidelines . For additional photo examples of the suggested modifications,  click  here.

The content herein has been reviewed and supported by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and has been provided to all local health departments. However, it has not been approved by any single public health authority, and markets should consult with their local health department prior to opening.

Recommendations in this document have been collected from farmers markets across the state and the country who are adapting operations to comply with public health officials’ guidance and requirements. Methods and tools contained herein are being used by those actively managing and selling at farmers markets.

The Ohio Farmers Market Network is here to support you and we hope that your farmers market is open (or about to open) and ready to meet the needs of your community.


Ohio Farmers Market Network