Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Sutter Davis Hospital hosts an offshoot of the Davis Farmers Market at its main entrance. The partnership promotes health and supports the local community of growers and producers.
The Davis Farmers Market has been a community establishment for 38 years. The market’s purpose is to connect people to their food and the farmers who grow it. The market makes fresh, local food available to nearby residents, hospital employees, patients and visitors. It is now open year-round.
“I feel like the market does so much; it’s everything right. It’s good health, it’s people talking to each other, it’s being outside,” said Randii MacNear, manager of the Davis Farmers Market for the past 34 years.
The market at Sutter, with only about eight vendors in the large, covered entry of the hospital, is considerably smaller than the downtown Davis markets. This is the first year in a five-year partnership that the market will be open year-round.
“We’re really excited because it gives us an opportunity to just keep building, [instead of having to close and reopen the market every year],” MacNear said.
Incorporating new businesses is one way the market grows. Sharan Virdi is the founder of the vegan and gluten free bakery Delishior, which has booths at the Sutter market, Davis’ Wednesday market and a Woodland market. Virdi said the market is a great way to introduce new products and to get to know his customers better.
Next to Delishior’s table is one with more baked goods, belonging to the well-established Upper Crust Bakery of Davis. Gillian Kalisky’s parents started the bakery in 1986 and have a long history with the Davis Farmers Market.
“It’s our best market, still. It’s always been our best market,” Kalisky said.
Kalisky feels that having the market at the hospital is a great way of promoting their locally sourced, healthy, natural ingredients.
Kalisky expressed how important farmers markets are to the sellers. In general, customers are “buying directly from the producers, whether it’s farmers or bakers or artisans, [and are] really supporting small businesses as directly as [they] possibly can.”
Joe Giottonini is the founder of another new business, Squashed Olives, which also has a booth at the Sutter market that he says serves as “research” to help him learn what his customers want. Giottonini’s artisan lotions and soaps are made with his family’s own olive oil, which is also for sale on his table.
About half of the tables at the Sutter market belong to farmers. Under California Certified Farmers’ Markets regulations, all of the farms get inspected by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to ensure that they are selling only what they grow. Some of the farms choose to adhere to organic principles, and must submit to additional inspections in order to become certified as organic.
“I have such great admiration for farmers. It’s not easy to be a farmer,” MacNear said.
The market is a community of its own. For Bernice Hatfield, who owns an organic farm with her husband, the other farmers at the market are her friends. Hatfield said that they are a “sales team” that supports each other, such as when a fellow farmer ran over to Hatfield’s table to borrow $1 bills. Many of the farmers are selling the same fruits and vegetables in season, but each have their own specialties. Hatfield’s table includes loofah and bitter melon, ingredients used in her traditional Taiwanese cooking. “I only grow things I like to eat,” Hatfield said.
Currently, many of the outside visitors to the Sutter market are senior citizens who live in a retirement community across the street. The market is easily accessible for them, with abundant parking, fewer crowds than downtown and a lot of space to move around at the market. The market at Sutter and the farmers market on the UC Davis campus are the products of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to reach out to students and people in health care.
“Good health begins with farm-fresh food. The Sutter Davis Hospital Farmers Market is a great place for UC Davis students to come get fresh produce, fruit, baked goods and seasonal items that are locally grown,” said Sutter Davis Hospital CEO Jennifer Maher. “The five-year partnership between Sutter Davis Hospital and the Davis Farmers Market continues to grow and we are proud to offer the market to our community, staff and patients year-round, right at the hospital doorstep.”
Community members living near Sutter Davis Hospital have an opportunity to take advantage of this market as a supplement to the downtown or campus markets. Macnear encouraged students to visit the market if they want to bring something home to their families during the holiday season — whether it’s the honey, the local lotions, olive oil, or even a bag of beans.