Davis Farmers Market continues during pandemic, attendance increases due to return of students to Davis

Davis Farmers Market continues during pandemic, attendance increases due to return of students to Davis

Photo Credits: People shopping at the Davis Farmer's Market on Saturday, Oct. 31. (Justin Han / Aggie)

Safety modifications keep high volume of shoppers healthy 

The Davis Farmers Market has been a staple attraction in the Davis community for over 44 years. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, several modifications were made to ensure that this essential business could continue to provide fresh and healthy produce options for Davis residents. 

Executive Director of Davis Farmers Market, Randii MacNear, provided a statement on the official website for the market.

“Since mid-March, the market has been in a back-to-basics mode,” the statement reads. “At our core, we’re here for local farmers to sell safe, healthy, farm-fresh produce directly to the consumer.” 

Wendy Weitzel, the marketing and public relations director of Davis Farmers Market, described a shopper’s typical experience at the market before the pandemic. Weitzel detailed how the majority of the shopping was underneath the pavilion and vendors were packed closely together since no one was worried about social distancing at the time. Customers could taste or sample items and could often pick and touch the produce before purchase. 

Director of Community and Business Engagement for the city of Davis Diane Parro reflected on the city’s relationship with the Davis Farmers Market.

“The city has had a very, very long-standing positive relationship with the Davis Farmers Market,” Parro said. “We think of the [Davis] Farmers Market as a very positive and healthy activity—as well as organization—in Davis. We feel very lucky that it’s here.”

Weitzel further explained how several new modifications were made to comply with social distancing regulations at the start of the pandemic. Modifications for customers included wearing a mask at all times, social distancing six feet apart from anyone not in the same household and having to shop “eyes first.” 

Additionally, vendors spaced their booths six feet apart, wore masks and gloves and bagged produce chosen by customers, handing it to them directly. Hand-washing stations and an automatic hand sanitizer station were added to the venue as well. 

MacNear’s statement added a positive note to the situation as well.

“This pandemic has brought so many challenges,” the statement reads. “But I’m an optimistic person, and I’m seeing a lot of positive[s] come out of it as well.” 

In terms of positive changes to the market, Weitzel noted that the return of more UC Davis students to town increased the attendance of customers to the market.

“We have seen an uptick in attendance and students coming to the market,” Weitzel said. “[…] We’ve actually seen a really big increase in shopping at the market because it’s such a healthy place to shop.”

Parro commended the students for excellent compliance with wearing masks, but recommended that students visit the market in smaller groups. She also praised the farmers and vendors at the market for their hard work during the pandemic. 

“The farmers and vendors at the market have been phenomenal in the way that they have responded [to the pandemic] and we like to see them supported so we want people to come to the market,” Parro said. “We want them to keep getting the healthy, fresh, wonderful abundance from our farmers.”

Weitzel also commented that students should be complimented on supporting the market and following the safety rules. She additionally reminded shoppers to not stop and chat with people and encouraged them to eat and drink food and beverages on the lawn instead of in the pavilion. 

“[The market] is also known as a social setting, and it really shouldn’t be seen like that right now,” Weitzel said. “We ask that students [and customers in general] don’t congregate in the middle of the pavilion.” 

Parro added one final comment in regards to the future of the Davis Farmers Market.

“The market has—via the state and county guidance—always been considered a safe and appropriate place to get essentials,” Parro said. “We’ll get through this, but it’s always a little trickier now.”

Written By: Jelena Lapuz — city@theaggie.org