What comes to mind when you think of farmers markets? Ripe seasonal produce, colorful flowers, freshly baked bread, music? While the Davis Farmers Market has a positive effect on your Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon, it also makes a direct impact on our broader community and its food system.
Farmers markets’ role in building healthy communities and prosperity for farmers and small businesses has made the USDA proclaim the first week of August as Farmers Market Week. For the last 24 years, we’ve celebrated farmers markets at the peak of summer, honoring the work being done to connect farmers and society, and to create a sustainable food system.
This year, this special celebration is Aug. 6 through 12. As one of the pioneers of farmers markets since in 1976, the Davis Farmers Market helped lead the way in what is now a global celebration.
Why do we need a week to celebrate farmers markets? These markets support California’s small and diversified farms, and circulate money back into our local economy. Each year, tens of thousands of farmers sell directly to consumers at farmers markets nationwide, generating billions in revenue. Recent surveys note that more than 80 percent of all direct-market food sales occurred within 100 miles of the farm. At a time when many restaurant sales and other outlets for farmers are down, the income farmers receive at farmers markets is a lifeline.
Through the uncertainty of the pandemic, farmers markets served as a vital source of community connection and stability, offering fresh food and outdoor gathering spaces. Our market is designed in partnership with the people we serve, creating a place where market operators, farmers, shoppers and neighbors collaborate to meet the evolving needs of our community. More than ever, we need spaces where people can come together. That’s why the Davis Farmers Market brought back Picnic in the Park in May. It continues Wednesdays, 4 to 8 p.m. through Sept. 13.
For Farmers Market Week and beyond, the Davis Farmers Market is a great place for farmers to grow, and community members to go. Year-round in Central Park, thousands gather each week to shop for what is grown, raised and made locally. Since the mid-’70s, the market has connected and supported communities, area agriculture, farmers and artisan food producers. It educates the public and schoolchildren about nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and the local economic value of buying food and products directly from the producer.
From the start, our mission has been about community. Our goal is “to educate and engage the public about nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and the economic value to our area of buying locally grown food and locally sourced products directly from growers and artisans. In this effort, the Davis Farmers Market Alliance connects and supports communities, local agriculture, farmers and artisan food producers.”
And since 2000, our Davis Farm to School program has supported the Davis Joint Unified School District, providing farm- and garden-based education, increasing farm-fresh foods in school meals, and reducing solid waste through recycling and composting.
Shopping at our market makes a big impact on our community and local food system. It supports small and diversified farms – most within 100 miles – and boosts the area’s economy.
It takes a lot of human power, resources and organization to bring our markets to you every Wednesday and Saturday, as well as our satellite markets at UC Davis, Sutter Davis Hospital and Sutter Medical Center. (Our signature Saturday market is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Central Park, year-round. On Wednesdays, we’re open 4 to 8 p.m. mid-May through mid-September for Picnic in the Park, and 3 to 6 p.m. mid-September through mid-May for a traditional market. Fall and spring quarters, our UC Davis Farmers Market is open 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays outside the Student Community Center. The Sutter Davis Sutter Davis Hospital Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays from May through September, and the Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento has a market from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Thursday, year-round.
Across the country, farmers markets are changing the way we eat, shop, connect and more. This Farmers Market Week, be sure to come out and visit the market, and donate to the nonprofit Davis Farmers Market Alliance at https://bit.ly/DFMdonate to help us continue the work of creating a sustainable community, supporting our farmers, and providing fresh local food for all. Learn more about our organization at https//davisfarmersmarket.org and https://www.davisfarmtoschool.org/.
No matter what week it is, I’m in awe of our organization, our sellers and our amazing community. Happy Farmers Market Week.