South Bend Farmer's Market remains open for essential items during pandemic

NOW: South Bend Farmer’s Market remains open for essential items during pandemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— For over 100 years, the South Bend Farmer's Market has provided Michiana with fresh, locally grown and produced items.

For local farmers and makers, even a pandemic wasn’t going to keep them from doing that.

“I am a fourth generation here at the farmer's market. My great-grandfather started here in 1919,” said Michael Hiatt, of Hiatt’s Poultry. 

Hiatt, who is also the market’s board president, said that he’s had to make some changes to his longtime market stand in response to coronavirus.

“We put up plexiglass throughout our whole stand,” Hiatt said.”When we are waiting on customers, we’re wearing our gloves and we’re trying to be social distancing from across the counter and sanitizing our hands all of the time.”

Hiatt’s Poultry is one of the market stands that’s still open during the pandemic, as it offers essential items like meats, cheeses, eggs, and other groceries.

“All of our non-essential vendors are not allowed to come in and sell,” said Char Krause, the manager of the South Bend Farmers Market. “There were people that were concerned with us staying open and the main reason that we stayed open was that we are considered grocery and we wanted to be able to provide that service for people.”

The market has implemented increased sanitization procedures in response to the virus. Many sellers wear both masks and gloves while interacting with customers. 

Krause said the wide aisles of the market also give shoppers room to move about without being near anyone else.

Business has slowed down at the market, though, as the market’s cafe and many of the vendors, have temporarily closed up.

Once bustling Saturdays at the market are now quieter and all events on the calendar for the near future have been canceled. 

“It’s impacted the market in a big way,” Krause said, adding that the market is no longing bringing in revenue from walk-in vendors who typically fill empty stalls and vendors who aren’t currently selling.

As part of Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, the market is allowed to continue selling its essential items like groceries. To do that, market staff have created a whole new process for shoppers if they’re worried about heading out in public.

“We offer curbside service. People call in or text and place an order, we put the orders together and then we take them out and give them to them in their car,” Krause said. “That’s gone very well. That’s something that we’re going to continue even after this scare is over with.”

Items like bread, coffee, spices, vegetables, fruits, plants, personal care items and more are still available at the market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 7 a.m to 3 p.m.

But fear not, Krause is certain that the market will return to its once busy self once restrictions are lifted. 

“We’re not going to let anything happen to the market,” Krause said.

For more information about vendors still available and how to access the market's curbside service, visit their website.

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