UPDATED: Overland Park changes course, will delay opening of Farmers’ Market

The Overland Park Farmers' Market, usually held at the pavilion at 7950 Marty Street, will open Saturday, April 11. It will be temporarily relocated to the south parking lot at the Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty Street.

UPDATE: The city of Overland Park on Tuesday afternoon said that it was changing course and would be delaying the opening of its Farmers’ Market season until at least April 25. Communications Manager Sean Reilly said the city may consider extending the delay if the statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly is extended.

ORIGINAL STORY: The city of Overland Park will open its Farmers’ Market on Saturday, April 11, as an essential food provider, according to the city’s website.

Under the state and county emergency orders, farmers’ markets are classified as an essential food provider, allowing Overland Park’s market to open and operate without violating any order, Communications Manager Sean Reilly said. A temporary relocation to the parking lot south of the Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty Street, is intended to prevent gatherings and allow vendors to spread out, he said.

“The vendors want to provide fresh, nutritious food for the community, and the city is happy to offer the market to the community and for vendors,” Reilly said. “However, public safety is of the utmost importance to everyone, which is why new procedures are being implemented and it’s going to take us all being smart with kindness and patience to make it work.”

Neighboring cities have taken a different approach: Both Lenexa and Merriam have delayed the opening date for their farmers’ markets due to COVID-19. Lenexa was originally going to open its market on April 25, but it’s recently been postponed. Merriam’s will open on May 23, and reserve the first hour of operation for at-risk shoppers while also having shopping take place along the outer edge of the market.

The Mission Market has not made any changes to its schedule — Thursday evenings June through August — but the city is waiting to see what part of that schedule can be maintained as public health conditions change over the next couple of months, Assistant to the City Administrator Emily Randel said. Other farmers’ markets in the Kansas City metropolitan area, including the one in Kansas City, Mo., and in Brookside, remain open, Reilly said.

For safety precautions, Overland Park farmers’ market vendors will be arranged in a way to facilitate distancing measures and gatherings in groups will be prohibited. The market will operate during its normal Saturday hours from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the first hour of operation reserved for high-risk customers. Below are the specific safety measures Overland Park is taking, Reilly said:

  • Vendors to be placed at every third stall (or more), which is nine feet in distance
  • The city is asking shoppers to come alone and prepared — use a list, get in and get out
  • Self service is prohibited, vendors will help shoppers
  • Signage will be posted throughout the market and within vendor stalls
  • Vendors required to follow protocols such as having a hand-washing station and in-booth cleaning supplies
  • The city encourages wearing gloves for transactions

“No vendor is required to come just like no shopper has to come,” Reilly said. “Everyone has to do what they feel is right for them and their families.”

Vendors themselves have also taken varying safety precautions and must modify their operations to stay within the emergency orders’ guidelines, Reilly said. For instance, all baked goods will be prepackaged, he said. Additionally, there will be no entertainment, activities or public restroom availability during the temporary relocation.

Curbside pick-up will be available in the angled parking spaces along Marty, west of the community center. Online sales must be arranged between vendors and shoppers directly, via the Forum for Vendors and Shoppers Facebook group or shoppers can contact vendors via the vendor list. A map of the temporary relocation site, where to park for regular shopping or curbside pick-up can be found here.