As the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, the Boise Farmers Market made an early and painful decision to postpone its season opener. On April 7, however, it announced it had found a novel way to serve its customers and vendors: a drive-thru option.
"We wanted to, first and foremost, keep our customers as safe as possible," said Market Manager Tamara Cameron. "The drive-thru concept is much safer. It actually allows customers to stay in their cars if they can pop their trunks from the inside. It's just a way to provide local food to our community in a safe manner."
The BFM drive-thru goes live on Saturday, April 11, with customers ordering online and requesting one of 400 available time slots during which they can pick up their goods, which are limited to "essential foods only," like produce, meat, eggs, dairy, pastas and breads.
Since a limited number of time slots are available at the market's location on 1500 Shoreline Dr., Cameron said many customers may have to plan ahead for pickup on Saturday, April 18.
"For the press, it's all about next week. It's not about this week. This is just about sold out," she said.
The decision to transition to the new format came after BFM staff consulted with Central District Health and the City of Boise, as well as its partners at the Farmers Market Coalition. Every community with a farmers market must make its own choices to keep customers and vendors safe, and BFM has outlined its own protocols to ensure that its new opening runs smoothly and safely.
"There's a lot of conversation going on there about keeping people safe and what works in this environment," Cameron said.