Customers shop at Athens Farmers Market [FILE IMAGE}

Safer Shopping at Fresh Air Farmers Markets

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ATHENS, Ohio — Athens Farmers Market Promotions Manager Rhonda Dybiec encourages community members to shop local and recommends purchasing groceries outside in the fresh air.

Dybiec said the air handling systems in big stores don’t typically filter pathogens out of the air, and in an enclosed area, pathogens can stay active longer.

“So being in an outdoor space, where there is not the containment of the potential pathogens, is inherently safe,” Dybiec said. “And then when you have a very limited contact and the ability to stay distant from the other people, that’s inherently better than being in a closed space.”

Dybiec said that customers are also much safer shopping at Athens Farmers Market since no customer is allowed to touch the produce. Customers can point to the item, which is then picked up by the vendor. Additionally, one vendor carries out the transaction and the other handles the produce to further reduce the chance of contamination.

The Farmers Market is following the guidelines from the Athens City-County Health Department and limiting the number of people allowed inside the market at one time.

“Many of [vendors] have cordoned off, made spots on the ground, put tape on the ground for where the people are supposed to stand,” Dybiec said. “They’re trying what they can to just remind people how to act in this time.”

Dybiec said she is worried about the strain the pandemic is causing on the supply chain. She wants people to shop smarter and not hoard supplies.

Customers shop at Athens Farmers Market [FILE image]
“A lot of [farmers] are producing food with the intention of selling food, and they have planned and planted quantities,” Dybiec said. “If we don’t support them and purchase those quantities, they’re gonna go to waste.”

The Athens Farmers Market will continue to sell fresh produce on Saturdays and Wednesdays and accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Produce Perks.