Farmers Market U-pick Guidance

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Dan Fillius
Food Safety Educator
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

eggs at the farmers marketAs COVID-19 changes so many things about our society, many produce farmers are currently seeing a surge in demand for their produce from local customers. Direct marketing techniques are rapidly shifting to low- and no-contact methods. It is critical that farmers markets institute immediate changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their staff, sellers and buyers.

Some key points around sales at farmers markets (Content from Guidance for Farmers Markets and Farmers Market and U-Pick Best Practices):

  • Limit contact.
    • Control/restrict flow through the farm/market.
      • One-way foot traffic at market can limit contact in some locations. Consider this option where practical.
      • Post signage at the entrances that prohibits anyone who has had a fever in the last three days, been ill, or is visibly showing signs of illness (i.e., coughing and sneezing) from entering the market.
      • Post signage at the market entrances and exits instructing all staff, sellers, and buyers to practice social distancing, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash hands or use hand sanitizer often.
    • Vendors should only allow necessary workers in stalls and other sales outlets; individuals not directly involved in sales are prohibited.
    • Encourage vendors who prepare foods at home, such as baked goods, to follow food safety practices during preparations and to securely wrap or package foods prior to bringing them to the market.
    • Consider a cash free/ hands free option. Reduce money handling (wear gloves when handling money) and promote touchless pay options.
    • Encourage limited product-handling by customers and staff.
      • Place a table between you and your customer to enforce a 6 foot distance.
      • Pre-bag products to minimize number of touches.
    • Online ordering should be encouraged where available. Pre-bagged orders should be delivered to consumers in designated market delivery areas. (The exchange of goods must take place at the market during designated market hours. It is the responsibility of the vendor to ensure products are delivered to the consumer in a manner that protects foods from temperature abuse or contamination.)
  • Clean frequently.
    • Provide easy-to-access hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations for vendor and customer use; if applicable, re-stock restrooms with hand-washing supplies frequently, including soap and paper towels.
      • Hand washing stations and hand sanitizing units should be at entrance and throughout the market/farm.
    • Set up a schedule for sanitizing all surfaces that people touch and all surfaces of the restroom.
    • Clean vendor surfaces frequently with soap and water. Use disinfectant wipes or other disinfectants. The CDC recommends five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water. If possible, use easy-to-disinfect non-porous plastic tables.
      • Consider a table covering that can be cleaned and sanitized, such as vinyl and plastic and avoid cloth or wood.
  • Limit what is sold.
    • Discourage vendors from offering food samples or serving foods that are intended for immediate or on-site consumption.
    • Only farm products and food are allowed.
    • Entertainment, other social activities, and common seating are prohibited.

A great number of resources exist to help farmers operate during the pandemic. Below is a sampling of some especially helpful ones I have found.

Date of Publication: 
May, 2020