Tent on Fifth Street at Baton Rouge's downtown Red Stick Farmer's Market, had a light stream of customers, Saturday, March 21, 2020, but not the crowds and congestion the market typically sees-- and that might be seen as a good thing.

    Copper Alvarez, executive director of Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance (BREADA), which organizes the Saturday market and one Thursday mornings off Kenilworth Parkway near Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said that that the markets are using a curved chalk line on the pavement in front of each vendor's tent, designating the social distancing 'On Deck' zone meant for a single customer being helped at a time, and other novel coronavirus COVID-19 public health precautions to help keep both farmers and customers safe.

   Those include a 'Shop-N-Go' strategy where customers are asked to get their goods and keep moving, allowing the vendor to select and bag purchases, and maintaining a six-foot distance between customers. In addition, a hiatus on activities like kids' crafts programs, cooking demonstrations and live music. Inside the Main Street Market building in the Galvez parking garage, businesses are still offering food as takeout. 

   Alvarez and William Fletcher, of Fletcher Strawberry Farm in Ponchatoula, both said they think that farmer's market food is one of the best choices people can make right now, both for the quality of the food and the open-air venues that keep them out of larger stores and checkout lines. Customers seemed to agree, and several mentioned they were happy to support those bringing their locally-sourced products to market.

    For more information, see www.BREADA.org, including topics "Vendors" and "What's Fresh."