BRICK – The Saturday Farmers’ Market has a new look and new safety measures in place due to social distancing, but it is as busy as ever with shoppers who are happy to be out of the house and vendors who are happy to sell their products.
Now in its sixth year, the popular market opened on May 16 when an estimated 1,200 people shoppers came out to Windward Beach to buy fresh produce, plants, prepared foods, crafts, and much more.
The township Recreation Department staff, police and other officials were on hand to ensure that shoppers adhere to rules put into place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, in the past, vendor booths were side-by-side along the asphalt walkway. Now they are spaced about 20 feet apart, and booths are also spread out on the grass field.
All customers and vendors must wear masks, and foot traffic proceeds in one direction. Customers may not handle produce or other items, and vendors must have one person to handle payments and the other to handle the products.
“Much like many other aspects of daily life, we had to adapt the Farmers’ Market to make it as safe as possible,” said Mayor John G. Ducey. “But having the market open will provide some sense of progress and normalcy, which is a positive thing right now.”
Township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin was at the market on a recent Saturday morning, helping to ensure that customers were keeping a social distance from each other.
“People come and go – the flow went extremely well,” she said. “Folks are told to keep it moving, and the vendors who generate the most lines have been placed on the inside [of the field], so it’s worked out really well.”
Department of Recreation Director Dan Santaniello said that 26 out of the 40 vendors who signed up came the first week, and 12 more were expected on the second Saturday. By week three or four, all the vendors would be at the market when more produce is in season.
“People are happy to be out, and they’re thankful we got the market going,” he said.
Brick resident Ted Duranti came to the market with his son, Conor.
“It’s being run very well – it’s smart they way they handled the traffic – the flow is very good,” he said.
“It’s good just to get out of the house. Normally we’re here earlier, but we came late so they’re sold out of a lot of stuff,” Duranti said.
That’s true, said Renata Fedoryszak, a vendor who sells Polish food items, such as kielbasa, pierogies, stuffed cabbage, and more.
“We’ve been coming for five years, and it’s been really good. We’ve sold almost everything today,” she said. “It’s been busier than I thought it would be because of the situation, but we’ll be back next week.”
Lori Picinich, who works in Caldino’s food truck, said they were very busy, but they might need to have a third person working since one employee must be designated to just handle cash, and another to handle the food.
“The new rules are working out fine, it’s just a matter of getting used to everything,” she said. “And we didn’t know how much food to bring.”
Brick resident Victoria Battiato, 18, was at the market with her mother, Lynda.
“I don’t know if this is the safest thing. I don’t know if we’re ready to open up like this [because of the pandemic],” she said
“But it’s a good experiment,” Battiato added.
The Farmers’ Market will run on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. until September 19.