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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

How the Davis Farmers Market and the community are adjusting

Managers discuss current state of the market, its importance to the community

With the on-campus Davis Farmers Market canceled entirely and the city side of the market maintaining strict regulations to ensure safety amid the virus, the dynamic of Davis’ only farmers market has changed drastically, but its importance to the community has become greater, according to its executive director, Randii MacNear. 

“Many, many people have told us, ‘Thank goodness [you’re] open,’” MacNear said. “They would rather come to an open-air market where they know who grew the food [and] who’s handled the food.”

Linda Adams, who manages the now-canceled campus side of the market, believes that farmers markets have become more valuable to the community because of the sense of normalcy they add to routines. 

“I think they’ve become more valuable because it’s a piece of normal,” Adams said. “Even though I may not be able to go down to Central Park and camp on the lawn with my family and friends, […] and even though I have to point at the piece of broccoli I want instead of picking it up and looking at it, and even though I have to wear a mask, it’s a piece of what I do normally.”

In addition to samples no longer being distributed and sellers having to pass out condiments, communal sitting spaces have been eliminated. Farmers Market visitors are meant to make their purchases as quickly as possible and spend little time there.  

“They’re coming and they’re shopping and they’re leaving and that’s good,” MacNear said. “Definitely nobody is sitting in the park, nobody is sitting on the benches. They have gotten that message.”

Although the market is taking many precautions, allowing the community to safely continue shopping for local produce, the social component of the market isn’t the same as it was, according to MacNear. 

“Step by step, minute by minute, we’re trying to create the most accurate and successful and efficient shopping experience for people, but it is very weird not to have any visiting, not to really have any chatting,” MacNear said.

Although there may be a strangeness to the limited social interactions among visitors and sellers, farmers aren’t struggling to sell produce. 

“We’ve had some interesting surprises — the farmers are doing fantastic and there’s really no slowing in sales in the farmers’ products,” MacNear said.

Although the small number of students living on campus aren’t affected greatly by the campus side of the market closing as they can still go to the regular market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, its cancellation is affecting students like fourth-year clinical nutrition major Janina Larsen, who is currently interning as an assistant for a registered dietician at UC Davis who helps oversee the campus side of the market. 

“My internship does not apply to the downtown market, so I no longer do that, which breaks my heart,” Larsen said. “You can ask any one of my friends how much joy the Farmers Market brings me, and they will attest that it is a lot. Luckily, I still get to write the weekly newsletters and attend the downtown market as a customer, so I am very grateful for that.” 

Larsen sends out weekly Farmers Market newsletters, which include healthy recipes, encouraging people to continue supporting the downtown location. She also helps run an Instagram account that promotes sellers and features in-season produce. 

“We hope that the students miss us as much as we miss them,” MacNear said. “We really want to see them come back, when they get back. We’re just very honored that the students love us so much and that they feel so at home at the market.”

Written by: Lyra Farrell —  features@theaggie.org 

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