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Farmers markets make changes amid COVID-19

More farmers markets are getting ready to open this weekend but they've made changes amid COVID-19, including one market moving to curbside pickup only for now.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — When the Linden Hills Farmers Market in Minneapolis opens its 2020 season on Sunday, it'll be for curbside pickup only. 

Instead of browsing on that day, customers are preordering items online during the week and will then pick up those items on Sunday. 

"We wanted to most protect our community and protect our vendors," said Libby Wyrum, manager of the Linden Hills Farmers Market

Wyrum said they spent weeks working on getting vendors online. They plan to do pre-sales online for May and June. As the season progresses, they hope to return to an in-person market. 

"We're going to get there, we hope later this season, but we just wanted to start out this way in order to best support our vendors and community," Wyrum said. 

Many vendors are also offering doorstep delivery and shipping (locally and regionally), as well as listing pre-sale and pick up opportunities at their other farmers markets. 

Typically, the Linden Hills Farmers Market would have 55-60 vendors every week but social distancing would've required them to scale back to only 15-20 vendors with an in-person market. They have about 70 vendors online so far and plan on adding more. 

"This allows the greatest number of local foods products to get into the hands of the greatest number of community members," Wyrum said. 

Jajja Wellness is one of those vendors. While growing up in Uganda, Henry Kisitu watched his grandmother make and sell tonics. It inspired him years later to launch Jajja Wellness.

Since the pandemic, Kisitu said, "It's really hard. It's hard for a lot of businesses, not only mine." 

Kisitu said they already had customers ordering Jajja Wellness products from their website but he misses those face-to-face interactions. Kisitu is used to giving out samples of his tonics, something that's not allowed right now with the coronavirus pandemic. 

"When somebody tastes something, they know what it is. So right now we just have to tell people, 'Hey, I promise you this is good. It's good for you,'" Kisitu said. 

But Kisitu said safety is a priority. 

RELATED: Farmers' Market celebrates opening weekend after being ruled 'essential'

Minneapolis farmers markets have been opening to customers but with safety measures in place. You can read all the procedures, here

Neighborhood Roots runs three markets: Fulton Farmers Market, Kingfield Farmers Market and Nokomis Farmers Market. Fulton and Kingfield open this weekend. They will be doing in-person markets. 

"We are having all our vendors wear masks, we have hand washing stations at the entrance and exit of the markets, we are limiting the number of people in the market at any given time," said Emily Lund, executive director of Neighborhood Roots. 

Lund said they are also encouraging people to order and pay online before the farmers market. 

"We did a zero contact, preorder-only market in April and that was a really great success. But recognizing that there is going to be very time-specific spring produce, we are allowing in-person purchasing. We will not have any programming available because we do want people to come in with their shopping list, be as efficient as possible. So send one person per household if at all possible just so we can keep the number of people at the market down," Lund said. 

Here's the Deal Spice Co. is also a vendor at this year's Linden Hills Farmers Market. Tom and Nicole Dokman launched their business last November. 

"Really trying to think outside the box, think of online as a focus, and different partnerships that maybe we wouldn't have thought of before. So just trying to persevere amongst everything that's going on," Nicole Dokman said. 

For this Sunday's (May 17) Linden Hills Farmers Market, orders need to be made online by noon on Thursday. Customers can then arrive between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday for drive-thru pickup at Settergren's Ace Hardware on 43rd & Upton. 

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