GLADE SPRING, Va. — Customers can look for a different kind of scenario when the Glade Spring Farmers Market opens its regular season on Saturday, May 23, in the town square.

Like most farmers markets in the area, the Glade Spring market is doing its part to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. The market has adopted Phase 1 COVID-19 mandatory rules of operation to ensure customers stay protected from the coronavirus while shopping in the indoor pavilion.

“For sure, this year, we won’t have the rocking chairs and tables out to encourage customers to sit and linger,” said Paul Case, market manager. “We always encouraged that in the past. We liked having folks hang around and enjoy a morning cup of coffee while listening to local music.

“But we will open the market to the local community, offering fresh produce, plants, eggs, canned goods, meat products and baked goods like we always have.

“Unfortunately, with the new rules, we won’t be able to have people come to chat. It’s just one of those things we’ll have to get used to,” said Case.

“It’s important to us to make sure we offer a safe place for people to come and buy local produce and products.”

This year’s market features long-term and returning vendors in addition to a few new names. New vendors this year include Johnny and Teresa White of White Acres, who will sell plants, produce, baked goods, honey, eggs and wooden plant stands. RL Livestock, owned by Randall Sheets and his son, Logan Sheets, will bring beef, pork and vegetables.

Case has coordinated with state and local associations to formulate instructions on how to operate the market during the pandemic.

“We’re a little different than most markets around here because we’re an indoor market,” Case said. The small market makes it easier to maintain social distancing, especially with only nine vendors scheduled to sell, he said.

“Doors to the pavilion will be left open so people do not have to touch door handles. We also plan to set up vendors every other space to allow for only one customer at a time. Face masks are mandatory for vendors and highly encouraged for customers,” Case explained.

“There’s going to be some learning the first time around. Hopefully, customers will respect the new rules. If not, we’ll have to revise our format.

“While many of the vendors as well as the customers are in the higher-risk group, we hope everyone will follow the rules to allow us to have a safe market where our local friends and families can shop for fresh goods safely,” he said.

“We are hopeful that, during this odd start to the season, we [can soon] convert back to standard practices and get back to a little more of what is normal. But I’m sure there will always be some precautions that probably won’t go away.”

The market is open 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through the end of October. For additional information, send emails to chillys@comcast.net.

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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