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Why Outdoor Farmers’ Markets Matter More Than Ever

Some customers prefer greenmarkets to shopping inside during the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, rules were introduced to keep the markets safe.

Tenzing Chime now has one job to do at the vegetable stand where he works, a measure of how much the coronavirus has changed the simplest rituals of neighborhood life.

He only touches the cash.

Like him, all his co-workers wear masks, plastic eye shields and gloves. One slides leafy greens into clear plastic bags. Customers point at the bagged vegetables from behind a rope, as if choosing diamonds from a jewelry case. Another worker puts their selections in plastic bins and slides them down the table toward the register, like handbags at an airport security check.

The city’s 50 outdoor farmers’ markets have always been a precious commodity for New Yorkers, providing fresh produce for urbanites and supporting the quiet work of local farmers.

But now, during the coronavirus crisis, some shoppers said the greenmarkets were more important than ever. They said they felt safer shopping outdoors than inside grocery stores.