It wasn’t business as usual for local farmers’ markets in 2020.
Things are starting to get back to normal, though, as the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be subsiding.
That’s good news for vendors.
“These people worked all week long while people were nestled in their beds, picking the freshest produce and washing and bagging it,” said Gail Lamberty, manager of the farmer’s market in Lodi, which opened May 21 after kicking off on May 22 last year.
Lamberty said the community stepped up in 2020 to support vendors through the height of the pandemic, as the markets enacted measures to protect everyone’s safety. She said some of them are still in place, as each vendor still has sanitizer at their booths. Lodi was strict about enforcing its COVID-19 precautions.
The protection of every shopper, every vendor and the community as a whole is the top priority, said Lamberty.
Lodi’s farmer’s market is the only one in the area that takes place on Friday afternoons, according to Lamberty. It’s open between 2-6 p.m.
Poynette’s farmer’s market is held on Saturdays from 8-11 a.m. and it opened this year on May 8. The site is the parking lot of Pauquette Park on Main Street, just south of village hall.
The manager, Patricia Niglis, said traffic was steady even last year, although some of the wares being sold in 2020 were different.
“Last year, there were a lot of people selling masks,” said Niglis. “Nobody is selling them this year.”
There’s also been an uptick in the number of vendors at the Poynette market. On Saturday, June 5, there were 13 vendors there. Niglis said the market has had up to 15 this year, where 2020 had about seven seasonal vendors.
Variety is what sets the Poynette farmer’s market apart. Along with vendors selling fruits and vegetables, there are those selling bread, crafts, flowers and honey, among other items. One at the June 5 market sold pots made of towels and was down to two, after starting out with 10, well before the market closed.
A flag standing alongside Main Street has been placed to notify those driving along the thoroughfare about the market. Niglis, who has been managing the market for the past five years, said a Facebook page for the market will be created as well.
In Lodi, at the market on Friday, June 11, Duane Weiterman, also known as Zeke, was enjoying the early rush at his vegetable booth, despite sweltering heat.
“It’s picking up,” said Weiterman, owner of Weiterman Farm LLC in Lodi. “Today is a much better start.”
Weiterman added, “Today is crazy. People are coming left and right.”
This is the third year Weiterman has set up shop at the Lodi market. He said the recent heat wave is “making everything grow like crazy.” He also said it’s been nice not having to wear a mask. As far as traffic goes, Weiterman said it’s been similar to last year.
Sheila Krueger, of Arlington, is also a vendor at both the Lodi and Poynette markets, selling baked goods. She also said the traffic at both markets is along the lines of what it was a year ago, but there are more vendors. She said last year farmers’ markets in Lodi and Poynette brought people out locally who couldn’t go elsewhere to get the kinds of goods sold at both.
“I think people just wanted to get outside and be among people,” said Krueger.