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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Fun Facts about the Davis Farmers Market


Interesting tidbits about one of Davis’ classics


  1. It’s open… rain or shine!


The Davis Farmers Market, located at Central Park in Downtown Davis, operates every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. all year round. Right now through Oct. 24, the farmers market also operates from 4:30 p.m. to sunset on Wednesday evenings in what’s called “Picnic in the Park.” At this event, visitors can take a stroll past the vendors’ stands, buy dinner at the food faire or have a picnic on the grassy space in the warm, golden light while enjoying the music of local bands and laughter of frolicking children. The greatest thing about the Davis Farmers Market is that the public can always count on this steadfast market to pick up their produce — rain or shine, no matter what.


  1. It has been voted one of the Best Farmers Markets in America lots of times.


This spring, Departures magazine named Davis one of the best farmers markets in the nation. With its fresh foods, great community spirit and proximity to California’s agricultural center, the Davis Farmers Market makes Aggies proud that their college town hosts the only California farmers market on this list. This isn’t the first recognition the Davis Farmers Market has received, though. In 2009, it was voted “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” in American Farmland Trust’s first online contest, and in 2012 USA Today ranked Davis No. 2 on its list of “10 Best Places to Visit a Farmers Market.”


  1. There’s a Davis Farmers Market cookbook!


In 2012, one of the co-founders of the Davis Farmers Market, Davis alumni and former Davis mayors teamed up with cookbook writer Georgeanne Brennan to write and publish “The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook.” The cookbook is filled with seasonal recipes that utilize ingredients from local vendors and producers, with the new edition of the book featuring 75 recipes; it also includes a foreword from legendary chef Alice Waters. Since its publication, the cookbook has won three awards and is now considered a classic that helped catalyze the farm-to-fork movement.


  1. It’s more than 40 years old, having begun in 1976, making it one of the first in California.


The Davis Farmers Market was founded by a group of UC Davis students: Martin Barnes, Kathleen Barsotti, Jeff and Annie Main, Henry Esbenshade and Ann Evans. United under the mentorship of rural sociologist Isao Fujimoto, the students began a project combining community values, social justice and healthy food to community members in what is today called the Davis Food Co-op. Now, more than 40 years later, the Davis Farmers Market has transformed into a robust, award-winning event that continues to pave the way for environmental sustainability and promote shared community values.


  1. A LOT of people go — between 7,000 and 10,000 every week.


It’s safe to say that the Davis Farmers Market is one of the town’s most popular attractions. Every time, community members trickle into Davis’ Central Park until it is bursting with visitors. Sometimes it can even be tricky elbowing through the crowds of people under the pavilion or finding a spot to lay down a picnic blanket on the grass. In fact, every year the combined average attendance between the Wednesday and Saturday markets is more than 500,000 visitors, with between 7,000 and 10,000 every week.


  1. There is a YouTube documentary about the Davis Farmers Market.


In 2013 a short film was published all about the joys of farmers markets known as “Farmers’ Markets: Love at First Bite.” In particular, the film highlights what it considers “one of the most successful markets in the country — the Davis (CA) Farmers Market.” The documentary is almost 27 minutes long and features interviews from farmers and visitors alike. The main focus of the film is to show the benefits of a farmers market not only to bring community members and neighbors together, but to appreciate and support a culture of healthy and sustainable food and food growing.


  1. Picnic in the Park (the Wednesday shindig) is (practically) zero waste.


In 2011, the zero waste program was launched for Picnic in the Park, which aims to minimize the waste produced at such events. Avoiding the use of plastic bags is of particular emphasis for the Farmers Market, which is what its “Go Green, Feel Good” campaign is all about. The market works hard to promote sustainable shopping and the reduction of plastic waste, selling reusable bags for its customers. Many shoppers can be seen carrying tote bags and woven baskets around the market, and designated bins for recycling, compost and waste are closely monitored by UC Davis student volunteers.


  1. The current manager of the market has been there for more than 35 years.


There are many people who contribute to the Farmers Market, but Randii MacNear is the market’s only full-time employee, and she’s been doing it for quite some time. MacNear has been the market manager for more than 35 years. She has seen the growth of the market over the years and forged strong bonds with multiple generations of market-goers. Many families have stuck close to this cherished event for many years. One of the founding families, the Barsotti-Barnes, have been selling their Capay Organic produce at the Davis Farmers Market since its opening.



Written by: Marlys Jeane — features@theaggie.org


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