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Story in Brief

Farmers markets play a vital role in providing access to fresh local produce. However, necessary social distancing measures during the pandemic are completely counterculture to the farmers market experience. Fulton County and Bartow County Extension provided an online educational program to help farmers, farmers market vendors, and market managers navigate operational adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online webinar was originally conducted for Bartow County Farmers market vendors and involved 52 attendees. Due to the overwhelming positive response, the webinar training was replicated for a state-wide audience. Delivered on April 30, 2020, the Farm to Fork: A food safety webinar was designed to address common food safety concerns facing farmers, farmers market managers and other food vendors. The hour-long webinar provided COVID-19 recommendations to keep workers and food safe, starting at the farm to selling at the market. General food safety practices from farm to market were also be discussed to enhance the safety of locally grown produce. Ninety-nine people attended the food safety training from across Georgia with 40 percent of registered attendees identifying as farmers, farmers market managers or volunteers, and food vendors. When asked to rate their knowledge level before and after the program, only 16.67 percent of respondents indicated that before the program they were extremely or very knowledgeable about the topics presented. After the program, 83 percent felt they were extremely or very knowledgeable about the information presented. Wrote one participant, “I received needed information I am confident is current and research-based that I can share with others.”