Davis Farmers Market is considered the best farmers market in the country – and it now has the official title to prove it.
America Farmland Trust awarded the market with one of three “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” awards last month for the best large market in the nation. Over 30,000 people nationwide voted for the different categories; 3,000 of those voters chose Davis.
Online voters were asked to write in comments about why they chose Davis as their favorite market.
“Nowhere else can you see a community united like this through a Farmers Market. Davis redefines what it means to get together and enjoy great food and entertainment,” read comment 243.
The Davis community, including UC Davis students, joined forces in the voting process by spreading the word about the competition through a Facebook event online and word of mouth, said Randii MacNear, manager for the Davis Farmers Market.
“It was rewarding for us to see that [the community] would go out and do that … that’s when you know that you contribute to their lives and mean something,” MacNear said. “And in the mean time, we get to have them eat more fruits and vegetables.”
MacNear said that the community understands the many benefits of shopping at a farmers market: fresh produce to support local farmers, healthy eating and a fun-filled community atmosphere.
“Shopping at the market, you can’t help but become a steward of becoming more aware. Those conscious decisions about what you buy don’t get made at a grocery store,” MacNear said. “The relationship at the market, with farmers and visitors, is such an important tool to cause that next step in action and behavior that needs to happen.“
That next step, MacNear said, is to ensure that farmers markets across both California and the nation are sustained in order to keep small farms in business.
Cadena Farms has had a booth at the Davis Farmers Market since its initial start in 1976, when Davis was only one of four farmers markets in California.
Ràmon Cadena and his wife Lucy have been selling their produce grown in Esparto – roughly a 45-minute drive from Davis – at the market every Wednesday and Saturday.
“The main thing here is to sell clean stuff, with nothing on it,” Ràmon said. “What makes this market special is, if you don’t grow it, you don’t sell it.“
Ràmon said he has been selling at farmers markets his entire life, starting at the age of fourteen.
“I sold at the farmer’s market in Mexico since I was a child. It was better than working for wages,” he said.
Ràmon and Lucy have kept their farm in the family: their now-grown children and other family members help them run the booth. Their farm follows the rules of being certified organic, but “it’s too much paperwork” to get the certification, Ràmon said.
His favorite part about selling at the Davis Farmer’s Market?
“The people of Davis,” he said.
Market-goers will have the chance to receive a free “No farms, no food” tote bag on Sept. 12. Lottery tickets will be given out for the totes since only 500 are available.
The Davis Farmers Market is held every Wednesday night from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. through October, and on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round in Central Park.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.