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Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market to test pre-order and pick-up program

Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market launches ‘pod’ test for vendors, customers
Businesses in Halifax are finding creative ways to re-open their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic without putting anyone at risk. As Elizabeth McSheffrey reports, the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is experimenting with a new distribution system that puts vendors in pods and customers outdoors.

Starting Friday, customers will be able to pre-order goods directly from their usual vendors at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and pick them up.

As a result of COVID-19, the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market has been closed since March 14.

That means the market’s regular weekend vendors were not able to sell their products to Halifax the way they used to.

READ MORE: Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market building to close Saturday due to coronavirus

On Wednesday, the market announced it will be testing out online ordering and pick-up in order to provide a new way to connect vendors to their customers.

Seaport spokesperson Lane Farguson said the initiative was driven by the farmers’ market staff.

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With strict social isolation measurements, local makers, bakers and growers have struggled to find a safe and legal way to reconnect with customers and sell their product.

Ripley’s Sugar Camp from Fenwick, N.S. is one of them. Tracey Bowden, daughter of owner Neil Ripley, said their family business has struggled for the last two months.

“It was heartbreaking when the market closed down for everyone,” said Bowden.

N.B. dairy industry feeling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
N.B. dairy industry feeling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

For a family business the market is an important part of their livelihood, she said.

When Bowden got a call from Seaport about the new initiative, she said her parents immediately said yes.

“We have some awesome customers that come to the market weekly, that haven’t been able to get any maple products. They’re excited,” she said.

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Ripley’s already has several orders lined up, and they will be the first vendor to try out the market’s new initiative.

Farguson says the market’s staff is doing everything they can to ensure that safety regulations are followed.

They set up sectioned-off ‘pods’ inside the market that vendors can book in 2-hour time slots, and customers will not be allowed inside the market.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia reports 7 new cases as total nears 1,000

Farguson said there are eight-foot tables, cleaning supplies and curtains for the sellers to use in the 400 sq. ft., space.

Once customers pre-order a product directly from the vendor, either by phone or online, they will receive a pick up time and order number.

Upon arrival, the vendor will bring the order to a designated drop-off area.

According to Farguson, the waiting area will also be safely regulated. For accessibility needs, there will be a designated parking spot the vendors can bring the order to.

As of now, the pick-up initiative will be available Monday to Friday with slots from 10 a.m. to noon, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Farguson says staff are hoping for a successful launch so they can look into extending this initiative beyond the pandemic.

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