COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Clintonville Farmers’ Market would normally attract several thousand visitors and more than 50 vendors to High Street on a sunny spring day. But because the beginning of the 2020 season falls during a global pandemic, the tradition is being reinvented.

“We just wanted to make sure everyone was being super safe, reducing the amount of contact between the customers and the vendors and exposure for everyone,” explained market manager Michelle White.

To promote social distancing, the farmers’ market limited opening day to 24 vendors and 200 customers. Saturday, producers set up in tents spread out through the parking lot at the Ohio History Connection. All customers pre-registered for the items they wanted and stayed in their vehicles for a drive-thru style pickup.

“I think this is wonderful. I’m so happy,” Robyn Whalen said. “It’s simple and it gets me the fresh food and local food that I need to feed my family. It is always something that myself and my kids look forward to and it’s something that’s a real staple for Clintonville.”

Grant Kibbey from Fulton Creek Organic Farm planned to make his first appearance in Clintonville during the 2020 season. The business primarily relies on farmers’ markets for income.

“We were very excited to be over on High Street because I know how busy the market is,” Kibbey said. “A little disappointed they couldn’t open that, but very, very happy to be here in any form.”

Organizers called planning the logistics of the drive-thru operation a “marathon,” but said Saturday’s first event went smoothly. They plan to increase the volume of people in the coming weeks.

Both customers and vendors said they appreciate the attention to safety, as well as a socially-distant sense of community.

“They need our support and we need their food,” said Whalen. “They have the healthiest, freshest food and we need to keep them in business and support our local farmers.”

The drive-thru farmers’ market will be held at the Ohio History Connection for at least the first eight weeks. Organizers will reevaluate the process when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

To purchase produce and other local goods from the Clintonville Farmers’ Market, visit the virtual marketplace here. Virtual store hours are Tuesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. SNAP shoppers should call market management at 614-537-4120 prior to ordering online.

Find out more here.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources: