An idea that caught on in St. Mary’s County during the coronavirus pandemic has been implemented in Calvert County.

A drive-thru farmers market at CalvertHealth Medical Center is a success, organizers say. The long-standing market was recently tweaked because of COVID-19 and was spurred on by a similar drive-thru farmers market in St. Mary’s.

The market, which is available on Tuesdays from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., is located at a back parking lot behind the hospital.

A farmers market has been held at the hospital for 12 years, according to Erin Farley, the hospital’s community wellness manager. The change to a drive-thru model has kept the market viable and safer, organizers said.

“It’s extremely important to support our local farmers,” she said.

Farley noted that seven or eight hospital staff are helping with each farmers market so there are two people at every vendor’s stand: one handles the product and one handles the purchase.

The market — which started April 28 and runs through Nov. 24 — may have picked up some slack from two in Dunkirk and North Beach that were canceled due to COVID-19. Another one in Lusby — at Sneade’s Ace Home Center — opened on July 11. It runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Amanda Bowen, president of the Calvert County Farmers Market Association, said the market has had over 60 people per day this year. “We have done really well,” she said.

Farley said the market averages about 80 customers. She said some are old customers and some are new.

“If I had more meat to sell, sales would be even higher than they are,” said Debbie Jones, the organization’s vice president and owner of Windy Willow Farm. Her business sells beef, pork, lamb and goat, along with jams, jellies and spice mixes.

Jones said the local butchers’ schedules are backed up because demand has been high due to meat shortages in grocery stores.

Bowen said there are 19 meat producers in Calvert, including two seafood vendors. Customers can pre-order from these producers and pick up their products at the market or the farms, Bowen said.

She added that the Calvert 4-H livestock group — which has not been able to show 60 animals due to COVID-19 — will have its meat processed the first week of October. A virtual auction will then be conducted to sell beef, pork, lamb and goat. For more information, email debbie@windywillowfarm.com.

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