Unsung Hero #142

Alert, well-fed and grateful “06880” reader Pippa Bell Ader writes:

Lori Cochran, Westport Farmers Market‘s executive director, isn’t sitting behind a desk during the coronavirus crisis, shuffling papers.

Lori works hard, 60 to 70 hours a week, ensuring that Westporters — and residents of many other towns — have access to organic, locally grown food.

In normal times Lori would be taking a much deserved break from coordinating the Winter Farmers’ Market at Gilbertie’s Garden Center, before the summer market opens in May.

Lori Cochran

Not that Lori ever really rests. This is the time she normally regroups with summer vendors, making sure they comply with all health and safety regulations, understand the nuances of the market, and are ready for the vibrant Thursdays, from May to November.

But this year is different. Lori recognized early on that — given mayhem and shortages in supermarkets — there would be a greater than usual demand for locally grown produce.

She contacted farmers and food vendors; identified those with produce to sell right now; set up a method to purchase and pay for items in advance so that no money or credit cards touch hands; educated herself about best practices to minimize chances of spreading COVID-19, and developed a scheduling method to ensure that no more than 8 shoppers are at the market at the same time — and never closer than 10 feet.

And she did it all in less than 3 weeks.

Now in its second week, you’d think the current system at the Westport Farmers Market had been set up forever. Just click on the website before 4 p.m. Tuesday. Choose and pay for the items you want to purchase, then pick an available time to get your produce.

On Thursday, head to Gilbertie’s on Sylvan Road South at the allotted time; wear a mask and gloves.

Don’t mess with Lori. If you’re supposed to be at the market between 12:10 and 12:20, be there then!

A little rain — and a lot of coronavirus — doesn’t dampen Lori Cochran’s enthusiasm for the Farmers’ Market.

Parking is a breeze. Follow the signs to the first “waiting” station. When you reach the front of the line you are asked your name, and who you purchased from. Vendors place your prepaid order on the table. Pick up your food, then leave via a different route — still minimizing contact.

None of this happened by chance. Every detail, down to the meaningful statements posted at each station, was carefully thought out by Lori.

The Farmers’ Market’s many customers and vendors thank Lori for all of the work she put into this system of food purchasing.

We all wish for the day that this is no longer necessary. But until then, know that your local, organic produce from the Westport Farmers Market is brought to you in the safest possible manner.

Thank you, Lori!

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

2 responses to “Unsung Hero #142

  1. Wow, Lori, You’re the greatest! What a hero and heroine! Thank-You!

  2. Laurie Goldberg

    Lori is amazing. And the market pickup is the safest I have felt outside in over a month. Thanks for keeping this going!