Farmers’ Market Guidelines for Social Distancing – Vegetable Crops Hotline

Farmers’ Market Guidelines for Social Distancing

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, farmers’ markets and farm stands are considered ‘essential businesses’ in Indiana. Therefore, statewide Executive Orders permit their operation during periods when only essential businesses may remain open, as long as proper social distancing measures are used. The guidelines below outline best practices for farmers’ markets in order to be considered an essential business. They have been prepared by Purdue in cooperation with Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Grown, and other organizations.

As of May 4, 2020, the most recent Executive Order (20-26) permits certain non-essential businesses to open in all counties except Cass, Lake, and Marion. Appropriate social distancing, personal hygiene and cleaning/disinfecting continue. During the period of loosening restrictions we recommended contacting local health departments for guidance on best practices in your area. Conditions differ across the state of Indiana and so guidelines may also differ.

Guidelines to Exercise Essential Status for a Farmers’ Market – by Purdue Extension, Spring 2020

reprinted here with permission

Best Practices for Infrastructure

  • Sell only items currently designated as essential by the Governor’s Executive Order
  • Consider alternatives for:
    • Online ordering capabilities/payment systems
    • One-stop payment system (e.g., exchanging vouchers paid for in advance)
    • Designated pickup times
    • Drive-thru service (customers stay in vehicles)
  • Discontinue all entertainment and youth activities
  • Eliminate or cordon off gathering places
  • Devote the first 30 minutes of market hours to elderly or immunocompromised customers
  • Designate one market entrance and one market exit, if possible
  • Limit traffic to one customer per vendor booth at a time
  • Implement time limits for customers at each vendor booth
  • Ask customers to remain in vehicles if lines begin to form
  • Request that customers leave after completing purchases
  • Ask that only one person per group enter the market
    • Allow exceptions for young children who cannot be left alone

Best Practices to Prevent Contamination

  • Do not allow anyone to attend or work the market if they are ill, showing signs of illness or have had contact with someone sick/tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks
  • Promote social distancing by enforcing a 6- to 10-foot space between vendor booths
  • Ensure people wear face coverings per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations
  • Encourage proper social distancing restrictions of at least 6 feet between individuals
  • Advise that everyone at the market wash their hands before and after attending
  • Place rented portable hand-washing stations throughout the market
  • Create hand-sanitizing stations and ensure all vendor booths have hand sanitizer
  • Increase the frequency for disinfecting market surfaces/objects

Best Practices for Consumer Interactions

  • Eliminate any eating while at the market — including product sampling
  • Consider pre-packaged options for faster checkouts and smaller crowds
  • Prevent customers from touching products they will not purchase
  • Round prices to the nearest dollar to avoid making change with coins
  • Encourage electronic payments whenever possible
  • Bag products for customers to limit contact
  • Split payment and bagging between two people
    • Alternately: bag first, then handle payment, then wash/sanitize hands

Best Practices for Communication

  • Use social media and newsletters to promote:
    • Vendors
    • Products
    • New/existing policies
  • Encourage customers to prepare advance shopping lists to minimize time in the market
  • Post onsite signage reinforcing the following expectations:
    • Do not enter the market if you are ill, show signs of illness or have been in contact with someone sick/tested positive for COVID-19 within two weeks
    • Do not touch any product you do not intend to purchase
    • Remain in vehicles if lines begin to form
    • Maintain at least 6 feet between individuals per social distancing recommendations
    • Wear face coverings per CDC recommendations
    • Use hand-washing and/or hand-sanitizing stations
    • Leave the market after completing purchases

Please note that regulations are subject to change amid fluid developments in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

(updated 5/13/2020)

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Vegetable Crops Hotline - Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2021 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Vegetable Crops Hotline

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Vegetable Crops Hotline at