South Bend Farmers Market ready for holiday season surge in customers

NOW: South Bend Farmers Market ready for holiday season surge in customers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Farmers Market has remained open throughout the pandemic and is even still seeing its annual holiday season surge, even with COVID-19 cases spiking. Organizers said they are not worried about the market turning into a super spreader event because they are taking the proper precautions.

"It's not going to be any more of a super spreader than anywhere else," said Michael Hiatt, the president of the South Bend Farmers Market's board of directors. "We're following all the CDC guidelines everywhere. We have our hand sanitizers everywhere, gloves, masks and staying six feet apart. We're just following all the rules that everybody else has."

The farmer's market cafe's executive chef, Nathan Walenga, said shopping at the farmer's market is safer than most grocery stores.

"I think that it benefits everyone to shop at a place like the Farmers Market because one, you're meeting with the farmer who probably raised whatever it is or the person who produced it," Walenga said. "So, I believe it hasn't been touched by near as many hands as what it's been touched by at a big box store, at a Wal-Mart or a Meijer or something like that."

While the market has yet to shut down because of the pandemic, the café did close down for a while when economic shutdowns initially hit Indiana. Some Vendors like farmer Vaughn Wolf, said they feel lucky the farmers market has remained open.

"We make 100% of our living here," Wolf said. "This is where we make our living, and it would impact me 100% if we couldn't stay open and weren't able to do this. This is where we make our living is right here in this building."

The market did say it is feeling the impact of the pandemic on its holiday surge in customers. This year's surge is lower than previous years, but vendors said they hope numbers will increase again because they said shopping local, especially during a pandemic helps vendors and customers alike.

"We have some great coffee holiday flavors," said Ashley Ryan, the manager of Delos Café at the Farmers Market. "We have some caramel apples that have red, green and white chocolate drizzle on them. We have different specialty items that are great for the holiday season that you can't find in a box store."

While this year's holiday surge in business hasn't been as high as it's been in year's past, organizers said they hope with time, numbers will get back up.

"It's definitely not what it was last year," Walenga said. "It's definitely not what it was two years ago, but with the holiday, people are coming out. They shop for Thanksgiving to buy their products. Then, they'll do the same thing for Christmas."

The South Bend Farmers Market is open from 7a.m. to 3p.m. every day except Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays all year.

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