Looking to connect to the community? There’s no better way than through the Davis Farmers Market.

Neufeld Farm peaches are a summer treat. (Photo by Wendy Weitzel)

Year-round at Central Park in downtown Davis, thousands gather each week to shop for what is grown, raised and made locally. Since 1976, the market has connected residents to their community, its land and its people. Shopping there supports a sustainable lifestyle, and provides a huge impact on the local food system.

The Davis Farmers Market is open year-round, rain or shine, every Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon. It has long been one of the only markets with a permanent shade structure. Walk rows of stalls lined with a beautiful array of fruits and vegetables, including certified organic produce, choice meats, chicken, seafood, wine, local eggs and honey. Choose from a variety of fresh-baked goods, plants, flowers and gifts. Enjoy a picnic from one of its food stands, made from market ingredients.

Below are some secrets to maximizing your market experience.

Get to know the growers, the seasons and the reasons for shopping fresh and local. Farmers market shopping supports your neighbors and the environment. It keeps ag land rural and sustainable. Most vendors grow what they sell, and are happy to answer questions and suggest ways to prepare their products.

You can taste and see the difference in farmers market produce.

Taste the difference. You’ll never go back after you taste fresh-picked berries, locally grown potatoes or tomatoes, or just-harvested corn. Yes, you can get these things year-round at the supermarket but in the off-seasons, they come from another hemisphere, losing flavor and using up a lot of fossil fuels to get here.

Try something new. The market will often have produce you can’t find in chain stores because some produce doesn’t ship well. You will find a larger selection of things like peppers, corn, potatoes and tomatoes, and a greater variety of colors and flavors than a traditional grocery store. Rather than shopping with strict recipes in mind, create your meals from the bounty of your discoveries.

Bring the little ones. The market can be an educational experience for the whole family. Your children can talk to farmers and start to understand how food is grown, and why it’s seasonal. Picky eaters are less likely to turn up their noses at produce that’s in-season and picked at its peak. (While we welcome families, health department rules forbid dogs in areas where food is sold.)

Find more than produce. In addition to fruits and vegetables, the market has vendors that sell honey, herbs, baked goods, nuts and nut milks, eggs, cheeses, meats and jams. There are also succulents, garden starts and plants.

Discover unusual gifts. The market hosts florists and artisans as well. On Saturdays, there are many skilled craftspeople who bring their customized goods. Examples include candles, soaps, pottery, tools, woodworking, quilts, umbrellas, totes, masks and clothing. The market shed sells logo merchandise and baskets, which are great components for building custom gift packages.

Mark your calendar. The Davis Farmers Market, 301 C St., is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. (or 6 p.m. during colder months) on Wednesdays. Saturdays is the flagship market, while the Wednesday and satellite markets are a great chance for a quick restock.

Satellite markets include the UC Davis Farmers Market, on the North Quad: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays during fall and spring quarters; the Sutter Davis Hospital Farmers Market, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays, May through September; and the Sutter Medical Center Farmers Market in Sacramento, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, year-round.

Learn more at https://www.davisfarmersmarket.org/ or follow Davis Farmers Market on Facebook or Instagram.