The Davis Farmers Market began with only three farmers in 1976, and has since grown to attract around 7,000 shoppers every Saturday.
Yolo County is known as one of the nation’s greatest agricultural powerhouses, and the Farmers Market, open Wednesdays and Saturdays year-round, is a place for consumers to connect with their farmers in a way they might otherwise not experience.
“[The farmers] are like artists who aren’t appreciated until they’re gone,” said Jake Clemens, a longtime market patron. “[The interaction] makes them feel appreciated for their hard work.”
The Davis Farmers Market has been a key community center in the City of Davis since its founding, especially after a covered structure was built to accommodate the market year-round in 1993.
“We come to the market even when we don’t need anything,” Clemens said. “It’s the pulse of the community. If there’s a problem in the city, this is where people come to talk about it.”
Students are also encouraged to stop by. In fact, the market’s hours were even extended until 1 p.m. on Saturdays to improve its accessibility to students, according to Randii MacNear, the manager of the Davis Farmers Market.
They can also visit the market at the UC Davis Silo on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during Fall and Spring Quarters.
“Students have told me that it’s hard to feel at home at UC Davis, but we try to make the market feel like home in a friendly community,” Macnear said.
As students may not often buy food in bulk, the market is an ideal place to find produce.
According to Clemens, shoppers can buy single items, like one apple or one peach, and those purchases, however small, can benefit the community.
Supporting the growers of the Davis Farmers Market also lends aid to many lower income citizens of the City of Davis. Many growers from Davis provide food to the Food Bank of Yolo County, which is then distributed to people and families in need in the community.
Even though the City of Davis and Yolo County are considered to be part of the breadbasket of the nation, 17.5 percent of people in Yolo County are considered to be food insecure — which means that they don’t have enough food to eat on a daily basis, according to the Feeding America “Map the Hunger Gap” map.
Some of the food that is donated by farmers is sent to five Davis elementary schools. This donation provides free and reduced priced meals for students who are living below the poverty line.
In this way, supporting the growers at the Davis Farmers Market also supports the health of all of the citizens of Yolo County.
“[The Farmers Market] is a gem for the entire community,” Saylor said.
Seventy percent of the goods at the Farmers Market are produced less than one hour away, according to the Davis Farmers Market website, and there are many benefits to shopping locally.
Buying food directly from its producers allows you to interact with the farmers. You can chat with farmers about how the food was grown or made, and ask for suggestions about the best way to prepare it.
“The market is creating a relationship between the growers and consumers,” said Don Saylor, the district two Yolo County supervisor.
Growers love seeing customers enjoy the literal ‘fruit’ of their labor. Farming is not for the faint of heart, and it is often difficult for local farmers to maintain a market segment in competition with large factory farms.
The Davis Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday mornings year-round in Central Park on Fourth and C streets, as well as on Wednesday nights. From March 20 through Oct. 30, the market is open from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and from Oct. 31 through March 13, the market is open from 2 to 6 p.m, also in Central Park.
TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM can be reached at email@example.com.