*Note: This story was first published April 2020.
MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Many small-scale farms rely on farmer's markets to sell products. However, the coronavirus and the social restrictions surrounding it have closed most markets.
The Dane County Farmer's Market closed its winter market early. While it still doesn't know when or if it will be able to open the summer market on Capitol Square in Madison, they are still facilitating sales.
People can order from many of the vendors online. On Wednesday vendors set up in the Garver Feed Mill parking lot as cars drove through and picked up orders.
“Clearly with everything going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to minimize the number of connections, but people still need to eat and our farmers still have products that they need to sell,” said Sarah Elliot, the farmers market manager.
The method is still in a pilot phase, Elliot said the Market is still developing the system they'll use for the public to get to local farmers.
“We certainly want to try to be able to help all of our farmers and small food businesses stay in business, that's absolutely the fundamental mission of our organization,” Elliot said.
The vendors appreciated the opportunity.
“Man so much thanks to the Madison folks for helping us out, it's huge, just absolutely huge their support,” said Cliff Gonyer, owner of Rockwell Ridge Farm.
Gonyer said farmers markets are the largest portion of his sales. He does have online ordering and urges small-scale farms to do the same now.
“I feel real bad for those farmers who don't have that, my encouragement would be get it going now, because if we don't have the farmers markets you're going to need that to drive your sales,” Gonyer said.
There is not a set schedule for the local food pickup from the Dane County Farmers' Market, but they will be updating people on their site: https://dcfm.org
The Market is also working with FairShare CSA Coalition to raise emergency money for farmers. So far they have raised more than $10,000 on a GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/emergency-farmer-fund?fbclid=IwAR3w-rjiuIipqwBrpsSDjih-JUDM0c0Spw7063IlexbT_XQgmpTNMeyPrsM