Farmers Market 2019-05-25 233_web
Local News

Very different Homewood Farmers Market set to open June 13

A crowd gathers as the James Hart band performs at opening day of the 2019 Homewood Farmers Market season. The market will open June 13, but no scene like this will be possible with safety restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chronicle file photo)

The Homewood Farmers Market will be back soon, but it will be very different from the market patrons are used to, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Village officials announced Wednesday that the market will launch its summer season on Saturday, June 13. The hours will be the same, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will be fresh produce available, but just about everything else will be different. 

A crowd gathers as the James Hart band performs at opening day of the 2019 Homewood Farmers Market season. The market will open June 16, but no scene like this will be possible with safety restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chronicle file photo)

Market Manager Kate Duff said it will be an “in-and-out, no-touch market” in order to comply with Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines designed to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Duff said she and village staff consulted with the Cook County Department of Public Health and the Illinois Farmers Market Association to develop a plan for conducting the market safely. 

Advertisement

Mayor Richard Hofeld approved the plan on Tuesday. 

“I want to err on the side of caution,” he said. “The most important thing is to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

Duff said farmers markets, like grocery stores, are considered essential services under the governor’s executive order limiting business and social activity during the pandemic. The focus will shift entirely to food sales.

“We realize people come to the market because they enjoy the social interaction,” she said. “We can’t do that this year.”

The market will include fresh food vendors only, and gathering will not be allowed. One person from each family will be allowed to enter the market, and people will be required to make their purchases and exit. No children under 16 will be admitted.

Duff said an online reservation system will be set up in an effort to avoid lines of people waiting to get in. Anyone who signs up for a time slot in advance will have priority for entrance.

If lines do form, there will be markings on the sidewalk to help people maintain the required 6-foot separation.

Patrons will also have an opportunity to order in advance from vendors, which will make the market operate more efficiently. The village plans to set up a system to help customers connect with vendors. 

Transactions in the market should be made by credit or debit card. Those who pay cash should be prepared to pay the exact amount as no change will be made.

“We’re going to focus on having customers move through the market as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s not a browsing market. It’s not a socializing market. It really is focused on allowing people to do their shopping in a safe manner.”

Another new feature designed to speed interactions will be a pickup service. Customers who order in advance will be able to stop just long enough to pick up their orders. 

Vendors can use the service without necessarily setting up a booth, so a wider range of goods will be available. Duff said craft and vintage decor vendors will be able to use the service.

Like grocery stores, the market will have a time from 8 to 9 a.m. reserved for seniors and people with conditions that require assistance. For instance, seeing impaired customers will be able to shop during the early time accompanied by a support person. 

That will be the only exception to the one-person rule, Duff said.

Customers and vendors will be required to wear face coverings and to sanitize their hands before entering. The village will provide hand sanitizer. Cloth face coverings are perfectly acceptable, Duff said.

The maximum capacity of the market at any one time will be 20 people. Everyone will enter and exit at Chestnut Road. There will be no admittance from Ridge Road or the parking lots along Martin Avenue.

“It’s going to be a different environment and a different experience,” Duff said. “This is new for everybody. We do recognize that as the season goes on we will need to make tweaks.”

One part of the summer season that won’t resume in the immediate future is the Wednesday evening market, which was a popular time for socializing.

Duff expressed disappointment about that but said it appeared the evening market would probably have to wait until phase five of the state’s reopening plan. 

“This isn’t the market that we’ve grown used to and love,” Duff said, adding that she hoped people will appreciate the market that’s possible for now. “We are doing our best to make this happen in a safe way.”

Correction: The photo caption originally had an incorrect date for the start of the summer market. 

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name
Most read stories this week

Community Calendar