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Fruits, vegetables, pulled pork sandwiches and face masks for sale at farmers market

‘Very good turnout’ as Battle Creek Farmers Market opens for season under new social-distancing rules
Battle Creek Farmers Market opens for the season amid the pandemic.
Posted at 6:27 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 10:01:24-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Pulled pork sandwiches, chicken pasties, soft pretzels, maple syrup, raw asparagus and all kinds of cheeses were on sale at the farmers market in downtown Battle Creek Wednesday morning for their first day of the season.

And, so were face masks for $5.

“There was at one time we weren’t sure that that farmers market would be allowed to [open],” said organizer Brigette Leach. “But, fortunately we can. We have to follow some news rules that we will all get used to.”

Dozens of people came out to the market at McCamly Plaza. Many wore face masks. Others had on gloves. Everyone shopped six-feet apart, adjusting to the new rules.

“This is a very good turnout for day one,” said Leach, who's also the treasurer of the Battle Creek Farmers Market Association. “We’re lucky the sun is shining and it’s not raining. We were a little concerned with that but people are anxious to get out.”

Many of the shoppers abided by the Center for Disease Control's social distancing rules.

She said the association even created a new way to do business.

“We’re doing a new cash-handling,” Leach said during an interview with FOX 17. “There’s one point where you bring your currency and your cards and you exchange it for our scrip.”

Before shopping, people stood in line at a tent in the middle of the market where they exchanged their money for little plastic cards called scrips. They then used the cards to make purchases, dropping the cards into buckets so they don’t have to come in close contact with the vendors.

If money were exchanged, the vendors would have to wash their hands after every transaction, she said.

“You know how dirty money tends to be. And so we had concerns about our vendors handling money that might possibly be contaminated,” Leach said. “We’re trying to streamline that so you spend a few minutes getting scripts to spend. We can sanitize it. You go and see the vendor, make your purchase, drop your script in the bucket.”

Leach added that food assistance cards are accepted as well, whether it be the standard bridge cards or the pandemic EBT cards. And, they will match whatever amount of money a shopper spends.

Also, there is no cap this season, she added.

“It’s beautiful because you can spend the EBT benefits on those staples like eggs and bread those types of things,” Leach said. “Then you can spend the Double-Up tokens on fresh foods and vegetables. And, what’s better in southwestern Michigan in the summertime than fruits and vegetables?”

Leach said for now the market can only sell food, hygiene and plants. However they expect other vendors to join in once the limitations are lifted.

And they’ll be out at McCamly Plaza every week until the fall, she said.

“Every Wednesday 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. until the end of October,” Leach said. “We’re here May through October.”