How to Shop at Davis Farmers Market

Let the colors of the season inspire your meal planning

Svet of Neufeld Farms sorts peaches at the Davis Farmers Market. (Wendy Weitzel/courtesy photo)

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

Year-round in Central Park in downtown Davis, thousands of people gather each week to buy what’s locally grown, raised and made. Since 1976, the market has connected residents to their community, its land and its people. Shopping there supports a sustainable lifestyle and has 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 to have a permanent shade structure. Stroll through rows of stalls lined with a fine range 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 at one of its food stalls, using ingredients from the market.

Below are some secrets to maximizing your market experience.

Get to know the producers, the seasons and the reasons to buy fresh and local. Shopping at the Farmer’s Market supports your neighbors and the environment. It keeps farmland rural and sustainable. Most vendors grow what they sell and are happy to answer questions and suggest ways to prepare their produce.

Taste the difference. You will never go back after tasting freshly picked berries, locally grown potatoes or tomatoes, or freshly harvested corn. Yes, you can get these products all year round from the supermarket, but out of season they come from another hemisphere, lose their flavor and burn a lot of fossil fuels to get here.

You can find a wider variety of produce colors and flavors at the farmer’s market than at the supermarket. (Wendy Weitzel/courtesy photo)

Try something new. The market will often have products that you will not find in chain stores because some products are not shipped well. You will find a greater selection of products such as peppers, corn, potatoes and tomatoes, as well as 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 wealth 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 begin to understand how food is grown and why it is seasonal. Picky eaters are less likely to turn their noses to produce that is in season and picked at its peak. (Although we welcome families, health department rules prohibit dogs in areas where food is sold.)

Find more than products. In addition to fruits and vegetables,

market has vendors selling honey, herbs, baked goods, nuts and nut milks, eggs, cheeses, meats, and jams. There are also succulents, garden starters and plants.

Discover unusual gifts. The market also hosts florists and artisans. On Saturdays, many skilled craftsmen bring their personalized products. Examples include candles, soaps, pottery, tools, woodworking, quilts, umbrellas, bags, masks, and clothing. The Market Shed sells branded merchandise and baskets, which are great items for creating personalized gift packages.

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

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

Learn more about or follow Davis Farmers Market on Facebook or Instagram.

James V. Payne