One of Winnipeggers’ favourite spring sights, the opening of the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, will be a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The popular weekend hot spot has moved to a hybrid method, with an option to buy from some vendors online, while other vendors maintain a physical presence under the canopy and follow social-distancing protocols.
“At this point, we only have vendors who are selling things like food products, soaps, that kind of thing — just essential products at this time,” said the market’s executive director, Marilyn Firth.
“When you come to the market, the vendors under the canopy will be a much smaller number than people are used to seeing.
“That’s actually giving us room to spread the vendors out as well so that there’s room for people to have the space they need for social distancing in this situation.”
Online customers will be able to pick up their orders via a drive-thru option on market days or by coming under the canopy to pick their items up.
Firth said it’s not the market’s first experience with online orders: in 2014, before it first opened year-round, an online market was set up in the winter, but she said this is a very different experience.
“I think people will have to reimagine the market right now. It’s such a loved place as a community gathering space, and we can’t be that right now,” she said.
“It’s definitely a lot of rethinking how we’re doing things, having to get the facility in place and everything.
“It’s quite a bit of work, but we really feel it’s a time when you really wanna be supporting local producers… for some of our vendors, it’s the only market they sell at.”
Firth said the physical market will be set up much like grocery stores are during the pandemic — with enforced social distancing, only a few people being let in at a time and additional sanitization.
“We want people to have access to good quality local food, so it feels really important that we keep offering that option,” Firth said.
“When you come into times like this, you see the value of having locally produced food and you want to make that option available to people that they can support their local folk.”