Delaware to allow farmers markets to reopen
First State farmers markets can resume operations later this week with limitations and restrictions.
Delaware had lagged behind other states in the region in allowing the markets to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The markets were not part of the state’s initial wave of businesses allowed to reopen with restrictions last Friday.
That changed Monday when the state announced the more than 20 markets in Delaware can open back up this Friday May, 15.
Henry Bennett is a sixth-generation grower at Bennett Orchards in Frankford. He says a time of uncertainty is now over for Delaware’s vegetable farmers deciding whether or not to plant some of their crops.
“I’ve talked to four people since the news broke at one o’clock that were getting the transplanters out and going out in the field right now to plant so that they’re going to have things at the markets in July and August, continuing throughout the summer and feeding our local communities at a time when we need this most," said Bennett.
The state previously said the markets remained closed because they were considered social venues. Monday’s announcement from the state says that is no longer the case.
“It’s going to be a little bit different than people have experienced in the past at farmers markets,"said Stacey Hofmann, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Agriculture. "It’s really not going to be a social venue. The goal is to come in, purchase your food and leave.”
The Ag Department has been working with the Delaware Farmers Market Coalition to develop new rules for reopening.
Monday's announcement says the markets will not be allowed to include entertainment or other demonstrations. They will be required to have only one entrance and exit to the market and foot traffic must be in one direction.
"So they will move sequentially down the booths of the farmers market vendors to do their purchasing," said Hofmann.
Hofmann adds products will not be on display where people can touch or handle them. Customers will need to request items from vendors and the farmer will package the product for purchase.
All customers are required to wear face coverings with a maximum of two people per household and service animals only.
This story has been updated.