Hi there! Each week for the last several, I’ve thought “This is it. There’s no way we can keep going like this.” But we make it through the evening on Thursday in one piece, and decide to give it another go next week. So, here we are.
The biggest thing we learned last week is we are very much weather-dependent. Wind gusts came through while we were setting up and destroyed one of our pop-up tents, and I really have no idea what we’d’ve done if it had stormed. Things look really good for beautiful weather this week, so that gives me a bit more time to mull that over.
Having three separate pickup windows has really helped a lot! About half of you chose the 5-6pm time slot, and it took us the entire hour to go through everyone. About a third of you chose 6-7, and the remaining few chose 7-8. Those of you who chose the 5pm hour last week and didn’t like the long line might want to choose the 7pm slot, when the parking lot has lots of room and we’ve got your items ready to go. The time you arrive has no bearing on if you get everything you order, as that’s determined by when you place your order if the grower runs short. If they can’t fill everything, the system prompts them to remove the shortage from people who ordered last. So, no need to arrive right at the beginning of your time slot, and odds are that’ll only increase your wait time.
The live plants are the biggest bottleneck. There’s a reason Cofer’s doesn’t sell groceries, and we’re just not set up to be able to efficiently get you all the plants you’re wanting to put into your gardens, what with all this free time and all. But gardening is really important, and the single biggest reason why I run a farmers market, so we’re not going to cut you off. If you buy plants, please know the following things:
- We will not be able to get your plants for you. They will be together, organized by grower with your plants together in each grower’s area
- We likely won’t be able to tell you exactly what you ordered or what grower you bought them for. Print out your order confirmation email or better yet, check your order online before you come and bring that list with you somehow.
- We cannot police who takes what. All the plants have labels with your names on them, same as the food. Please, please only grab the plants with your name on them. Pay more attention than just the first few letters of your last name, as many of you share those letters. Several people had to go home without their plants last week because earlier people with similar names took their plants first.
- I promised our volunteers that they could organize food in the back without having to come into contact with the record number of people coming to pick things up. I want to keep them and you safe, so I’m the only one of us physically interacting with you. That means we can’t have someone sitting among the plants directing traffic.
These other things about pickups are still the same:
- We’re not accepting in-person payments unless absolutely necessary. We’ll have a drop box for checks or labelled envelopes of cash, but we greatly prefer Venmo payments to @athenslocallygrown or online payments through a card tied to your account. That last option has a 3% fee, and Venmo is free.
- We can not accept any recycling
- We cannot take your own bags or bins
- We ask that you keep yourselves separated. I will have three tables up front so you can take your time looking through your order if you choose while I move on to the next person.
Keep in mind that conditions are still changing rapidly. We’ll notify you as soon as we know if anything happens to affect where, when, and if you can pick up your order.
Finally, a reminder that while the parking lot there is decently sized, it’s still no shopping center and there are a lot of you coming and going. Take it slow, give yourselves lots of room to get around, and be patient with everyone. This is new territory for all of us, and we’re having to adjust on the fly. Last week saw several times the usual amount of sales for our growers, which would be logistically challenging for us in normal circumstances. Please be patient with us on Thursday if things don’t go the most smoothly, and if you see something we could be doing better, please tell us. We don’t know how long we’ll be able to do this, but we’ll keep it going as long as we possibly, and safely, can.