On Thursday mornings a socially distanced line of people stretches far around the Imperial Avenue parking lot long before the Westport Farmers Market even opens, thanks to a pre-order initiative the market implemented this season.
"We pulled 200 people through here in 45 minutes," Executive Director Lori Cochran-Dougall said last week. During the four-hour market, the visitor total usually tops 1,000, she said, plus there are deliveries.
"We can provide a touch-free model," she said, noting it was important for the market to be available for people during the pandemic, especially those at risk of infection.
Everyone at the market pitched in as each order number was called over a PA system. Several tables were set up where the vendors quickly made each purchase available, also helping a few overloaded customers get safely to their cars.
"I feel really safe," said one of the customers, Martha Constable of Westport. "It's super organized."
Another customer and fellow Westporter, Laurie Goldberg, said she was glad the market was open.
"And I think everybody is grateful that the vendors are here," she said.
One such vendor was Norfolk-based Lost Ruby Farm.
"I really appreciate having the early pick-up for people who need it," said Adair Mali, the owner.
Mali said, though she has other opportunities, this is the only farmer's market she is doing this season because she feels so comfortable with its organization and attention to safety.
"It's a ways for me to drive ... but it's worth it," she said. "It's really safe and it's well-run."