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Morgantown Farmer’s Market to allow limited in-person shopping

The Morgantown Farmer’s Market will be open in a limited capacity for in-person browsing and buying tomorrow.

Customers will be allowed under the pavilion on a one-in-one-out system, according to the market’s website. There will be one entrance and exit near the bathrooms and close to the order pickup table.

Since the market takes place in an open-air pavilion, it is an outdoor gathering space and is subject to the state wide 25 person outdoor gathering limit, market manager Ayron Walker said.

“I’m really looking forward to it again,” Cathy Stemler, owner of Daystar Farm, said.

She said she doesn’t think the market is opening up too early and the market is being very clear about its precautions.

It is asking people to wear a mask and keep six feet away from other people and to be patient with the vendors through the process.

Customers can still preorder items from 22 different vendors on the market’s website,

Walker said some vendors are still only offering preorder and pickup services, some will only be taking walk-up orders and some will do both. The decision is being left to each vendor and it’s a good idea to regularly check the website.

The ordering system has been working “for the most part, pretty smoothly,” Stemler said. It does make items more expensive because of the fee and not everyone, especially farmers in rural areas, have access to the kind of internet needed to do business.

Overall, the feedback on the market’s online ordering system, which was implemented after the COVID-19 pandemic, has been positive, Walker said.

“The pandemic has created environments for us to be adaptable and willing to work together to benefit the community and farmers,” she said.

Some vendors have seen an uptick in sales, though Stemler is not one of them. She said they have had to adapt how they do business by focusing more on advertising and reaching out to customers.

Julie Mallow, owner of The Vegetable Garden, said online ordering has made things a bit easier because she doesn’t need to bring extra dry goods, such as flour and jams, to the market each week.

Sales also haven’t been as high as normal for Mallow because some of things her stall sells, such as spice rubs, tend to be impulse buys. Memorial Day Weekend also had an impact.

Farmers also face non-COVID-19 or market-related problems.

Despite an increase in demand for meat, Stemler said the slaughterhouse appointments are full.

Mallow lost her entire first planting of cauliflower and broccoli, about 750 plants, to the cold snap in late May.

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