For the first time this year, fresh and healthy food was available safely to in-person customers at Waynesboro Farmer’s Market.

The farmer’s market runs May to September at Constitution Park in downtown Waynesboro, but for the past six weeks, the only service available was curbside pick-up for online orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the day ended with thunderstorms, sunny skies and chirping birds echoed the summer atmosphere surrounding the first in-person shopping day of the season at the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.

“It feels good to be out,” said customer Sue Jones. “Everybody’s social distancing and wearing masks. I think we are in good shape.”

Both vendors and customers were happy to return to in-person shopping and experience face-to-face interaction Saturday.

“It’s nice that people get to come out and see all of the food in person,” said Taylor Hanigosky of Wild Altar Farmstead. “I think that’s part of the experience.”

Saturday’s vendors included Wild Altar Farmstead, Philosopher’s Tea, Poplar Ridge Farms and Simple Fresh Food.

New policies were put in place this year to ensure the safety of vendors and customers. Customers are required to wear masks while shopping. Vendors are responsible for bagging purchased products and no customers are allowed to touch items for sale. Vendors were asked to either set up double tables or put up a barrier between themselves and their customers to encourage social distancing. Posted signs around the pavilion reminded customers to social distance when waiting in line to purchase items.

An abundance of items were available for purchase on Saturday. Items for sale included herbal plants, lots of greens, onions, tomatoes, fresh farm eggs and organic teas.

Tom Brenneman, the executive director of Project GROWS, said the farmer’s market has faced some challenges this year. Project GROWS coordinates farmer’s markets in Waynesboro and surrounding communities to ensure residents have access to healthy and fresh local food options.

“It’s not been a market of fireworks, but it has been an unwavering partnership of the community being patient, vendors being gracious and the city of Waynesboro Parks and Rec setting the table of letting us do the pavilion market,” he said.

Although in-person shopping is underway at the farmer’s market, curbside pick-up is still available for those who do not want face-to-face interaction.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and WIC can be used at the Waynesboro farmer’s market.

The Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) program is also available for low-income seniors age 60 and above. The program provides $45 in coupons for qualifying seniors. The senior must live in Waynesboro, Staunton or Augusta County and have a monthly income of less than $1,595 for a single person or $2,155 for a couple. Seniors who are an immediate family member or live with a participating vendor are not eligible for the program. Those interested should call VPAS at (540) 949-7141.

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