A major test of social distancing in the Quad Cities will be held on Saturday in Davenport.
From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, the first Freight House Farmers Market of the season will be held - at 421 West River Drive in Davenport. And it's the first during the COVID-19 crisis.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has allowed farmers markets to open, despite a ban on large gatherings due to the pandemic, with certain restrictions. Only food can be sold, including prepared hot food and baked goods, at such markets, and other goods and services are prohibited.
Lorrie Beaman, executive director of the Freight House market, said no prepared foods or food trucks will be allowed at least in these first few weeks. The market also will limit how many customers are allowed to shop at once.
“This first Saturday will be a big test, because it’s supposed to be gorgeous.”
During the winter, the market offered space for outdoor vendors, through April, on Saturdays. Then in mid-March, as shutdowns started, they closed the indoor market, and a few of those moved outside. Beaman said last Saturday, about 500 people come through.
“We could easily count on about 14,000 people coming through the market on an opening Saturday, but now we find ourselves hoping that doesn’t happen.”
There will be 50 or fewer vendors this Saturday, compared with last year when 220 was typical. Some of that’s because for some growers, nothing is up yet and ready for market. Each vendor is required to wear a mask, gloves, and have additional tables in front, between customers and the products, which will be in the back.
Customers are encouraged to wear a mask, come with a prepared shopping list, be quick, and no sampling is allowed. The food is usually pre-wrapped, and each booth will have a parking space, at minimum, between them.
“Normally, they’re right on top of each other, and there will be one space between each vendor. Depending on how it looks, we may change it up so there’s only vendors on the north side of an aisle and not put any vendors to the south side.”
Last week, the Freight House market also introduced a new online ordering service. You pick the food up there during market hours, delivered to your car. So far, about 700 people have already registered online to be customers. Beaman says they also hope to start a delivery service as well.
“I guess I’d rather be out here buying my groceries in the open air, than inside a grocery store going down tight aisles with people, too.”
For more information, visit freighthousefarmersmarket.com.