Fed up with shopping for food at jam-packed grocery stores? Fortunately, you’ve got an option in Austin — farmers markets.
On March 17, the City of Austin banned community gatherings of 10 people or more to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the order exempts farmers markets, as well as grocery stores, big-box stores, warehouse stores, gas stations, and food pantries.
As such, at least five weekly markets — operated by the Barton Creek Farmers Market, Sustainable Food Center (SFC), and Texas Farmers Market — remain open as “critical healthy food access points.” They are:
- Barton Creek Farmers Market, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., open 9 am-1pm Saturdays
- SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown, 422 Guadalupe St., open 9 am-1 pm Saturdays
- SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley, 3200 Jones Rd., open 9 am-1 pm Saturdays
- Texas Farmers’ Market at Lakeline, 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., 9 am-1 pm Saturdays
- Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller, 4209 Airport Blvd., open 10 am-2 pm Sundays
Some vendors are taking preorders for fruits, vegetables, and other food for on-site pickup.
While some markets remain open, SoCo Select Farmers and Makers Market and Farmshare Austin’s mobile markets have temporarily shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The farmers markets that are open won’t look the same as they normally do, though.
For instance, Texas Farmers’ Market says that in an effort to promote social distancing, it has canceled special events, compost drop-offs, music performances, and on-site food consumption. In addition, it has changed how the vendors are arranged.
“All food will be packaged to go, and we ask that you pick up your products and leave,” Texas Farmers’ Market tells shoppers. “Do not idle at the market, and do not consume any food or beverages on site.”
Similarly, SFC’s markets have temporarily eliminated activities and events, on-site dining, café areas and food sampling, and self-service.
“Don’t greet anyone at the market with hugs or handshakes,” SFC reminds patrons.
In terms of making purchases, SFC and Texas Farmers’ Market caution against handing payments directly to vendors. Instead, you should put cash or a credit card on a vendor’s table, and then let the vendor pick it up.
“If you are able, we encourage you to set up Apple Pay on your smartphone before you arrive and use this as a payment method,” Texas Farmers’ Market advises. “If you do use this method of payment, please sanitize your phone before you arrive and after you leave the market.”
The market urges anybody who’s not feeling well to stay home.
“We encourage everyone who is healthy and feels safe to visit our farmers markets in order to procure healthy, local food from area farmers, ranchers, and small businesses,” Texas Farmers Market says.
For its part, Barton Creek Farmers Market has added hand-sanitizing stations and is regularly sanitizing common areas. It asks customers to use credit cards, rather than cash.