Drive Up Farmer’s Market

Heart KC

The 2020 Farmers Market Starts Up as a Drive Up

By Peggy Bair

Leavenworth’s 2020 Farmers Market had a cautious but successful start today as a reopening of the Leavenworth Farmer’s Market returned to Haymarket Square.

A Leavenworth police car presence and plenty of barricades helped people navigate the one way loop around the vendor tables. Face masks were heavily present on many customers and nearly all the vendors as well. The beginning of the morning was slower but the pace picked up about 9 a.m. with sales going fairly well despite the required changes of drive-through only.

Darren Mann came through about 11:30 a.m. to browse. He made a loop around the vendors tables in his vehicle. “I kind of like it,” Mann said of the drive up style of buying.

There was some waiting in the line up as shoppers interacted with merchants about their purchase choices but the flow was fairly steady and people appeared to be patient as they waited their turns.

Home made breads, cookies, jams and honey were exchanged for cash, tokens or credit cards – while fresh asparagus, brocolli, radishes, colorful tomatoes and bunches of greens were disappearing steadily from tables. Flowers and plants, soaps and wines added a cheery color to the chilly spring morning.

There was no official count of cars – and there were a small number of walk-ups despite the rules about drive-up only – but customers moved with as much pace as any grocery store aisle. Distancing was apparent but so was a strong pull to have conversations and interactions. There was a sense of community that seemed restored with the familiar vendors and faithful customers seeing each other again.

Maxine Bryant with Jefferson Hill Vineyard said that the drive up market went really well for them. “All the customers were so nice and supportive. I know that not as many people came as compared to our regular market,” she said. But, there was “a steady stream of cars and very understanding customers.”

Some on social media said they were resistant to the idea of the drive up style of shopping and did not want to try the drive up style of buying – preferring to wait until they could walk up and shop like, they said, is presently allowed in grocery stores. But merchants said there was a lot of online pre-ordering. A number of the shoppers who came through the drive up seemed to readily get into the idea of being able to still pick their products by pointing and interacting with the vendors.

Most agreed that the setting, while not as ideal as before the restrictions needed to control the spread of the virus – that at least this was a start in a return to an important farm-to-table venue for buying and selling.

Michelle Meyer has come to the market for many years and relayed some of the positive points of living in the Midwest where there accessible farm-to-table foods.

“I’m just glad to get fresh produce,” Meyer said. The atmosphere of people coming together in one place is also a benefit of the farmers market. “It’s a pleasure to have it all in one place.”

Some of the conversation on social media is about buying from local farms to support them, but a different appreciation for the markets seemed to be forming of late as stories are posted of food supply chains shifting due to the COVID-19 disruption.

Meyer said she didn’t get her tomato seeds planted in time this year for starter plants, so one of the vendors who was selling plants at the market was a benefit for her. “He did me a favor,” she said.

The varieties of produce and fresh-picks make a difference for Meyer as well. “I got home yesterday and made a tomato sandwich with tomatoes I bought from River’s Edge,” Meyer said. “It was the most delicious sandwich!”

Cars rolled by the vendors display tables Saturday, allowing vendors and buyers to transact with cash, tokens and credit cards. ©2020 Peggy Bair/Heart KC
Michelle Meyer of Leavenworth made her choices from a chart posted by one of the vendors at Haymarket Square on Saturday as the Leavenworth Farmers Market posted its opening day. ©2020 Peggy Bair/Heart KC