New leader of Lawrence Farmers’ Market shares plans — for now, and for post-pandemic normalcy

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A scavenger hunt for kids? In. Chefs’ demonstrations and taste tests? Still out, for now. 

Sophie Tate, first-year manager of the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, has come into her new position at an odd time: not quite the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although case numbers are dwindling and vaccination counts are rising, COVID-19 is certainly not over. So the market is sticking to many of the protocols it adopted last year to protect public health, Tate said Thursday. 

For instance, pets still need to stay home. The market is not currently allowing onsite consumption of food and drinks, either. 

However, it has put some practices aside: for instance, the market is not requiring an empty parking stall between each vendor, Tate said. 

“We feel like people definitely have the hang of social distancing a lot more, since we have gone through this for a whole year,” she said. 

The empty spaces you may see at the market are actually because some of the vendors’ crops won’t come in until summer — sweet corn and tomatoes, to name a couple, Tate said. It’s still early in the season.

But as the market’s staffers anxiously await the return of some traditions — such as chefs’ demos and taste-tests to expose people to new and different tastes and flavors — they’re rolling out some safe, new initiatives. 

Customers can now pick up loyalty cards at the market’s info booth, Tate said. On your sixth visit and purchase, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a prize that is yet to be announced. 

Kids who come to the market now can participate in a scavenger hunt for fun little items, such as produce-themed erasers and stickers, Tate said. 

The market is also partnering with the United Way of Douglas County for an Earth Day community booth and take-home activity kit for kids. That’s scheduled for the April 24 market. 

Tate said she’s looking forward to a post-pandemic market, where people can come try new things, learn about produce they’ve maybe never even heard of, and bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together in an open forum. 

The Saturday markets are set for 7:30–11:30 a.m. through Nov. 20 at 824 New Hampshire St. Following a rainy opening day last weekend, the market may be able to look forward to at least partly sunny skies this Saturday. It may be a bit chilly and windy, though — the National Weather Service in Topeka was forecasting a high of 55° for Saturday in Lawrence as of early Friday.

Opening day for the Tuesday afternoon markets, which run from 4–6 p.m. in the northwest corner of South Park, is set for May 4.

If you don’t want to take cash to the market, you can swipe a credit or debit card at the info booth to get market tokens. 

For more information, visit the market’s website at Follow the market on Instagram, @lawrencefarmersmarket, to check out vendor spotlights and more. 

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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