When strolling down the deck of the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park, it’s common to find an abundance of fresh green produce, stuffed into bins and boxes, on display and ready for sale.
That verdant trail, however, can be followed beyond the confines of the market pavilion and on into the downtown, where any “green” leftover in wallets and purses — after the week’s supply of avocados or strawberries has been had — is often spent.
A 2008 Davis Downtown economic study showed that the average marketgoer spent an additional $21 in the Core Area after purchasing whatever he picked up at the market that day, a number that market manager Randii MacNear says has grown over the past half-decade.
With 500,000 people descending upon the park at Fourth and C streets every year to experience one of the top 10 farmers markets in the country, according to US News Travel, local establishments stand to receive quite a bit of residual business.
“There is no doubt that the Farmers Market is a huge boost to our economy on those two days (Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings),” said Davis Downtown co-president Michael Bisch.
“It’s a fantastic community amenity, if not a regional amenity, and along with the community pools, the Farmers’ Market is my kids’ favorite thing to do here in Davis. I’m sure a lot of families feel that way about it.”
It’s for that economic boon, among many other benefits the market offers, that the Davis Farmers Market was named the 17th winner of the Bill Streng Business of the Year Award earlier this month by the Davis Chamber of Commerce.
The honor is bestowed on those businesses in town that “exemplify qualities of excellence, service, innovation and creativity in business, industry or the community.”
MacNear was humbled by the news.
“We have worked really hard to strengthen Davis,” MacNear said last week. “(And) because people like us: the news and the media and organizations … it brings attention to Davis, and it brings tourism to Davis, and it puts Davis in Sunset Magazine and on the national news and we are just thrilled to be able to give that back to the community.”
Aside from the economic benefits that filter out into the downtown and the rest of the city, the Farmers Market lifts up the community from its home in Central Park as well. Supporting and promoting the community were among the criteria the Chamber’s nomination committee had to consider when choosing a winner.
In recent decades,the downtown has been transformed into the city’s undeniable commercial and social center, with the addition of new restaurants, the construction and restoration of movie theaters and a revamped art scene with galleries and regular streetside events.
But there may not be an event in town more social than the Farmers Market, with crowds numbering in the thousands filling up the park twice each week. MacNear said that more than two-thirds of those who attend are from Davis, making it a truly community-oriented event.
“We want to help create community; we take that really seriously,” she said. “Davis values are very community-oriented, they’re very family-oriented, they’re outdoors, they’re healthy, they’re very aware of agriculture … small local businesses, and spending time with each other in the community and (that’s) what keeps them at the market.”
But fostering a sense of community doesn’t end with simply providing a place for residents to meet up and socialize.
In addition to the bustling food and craft stands that line the park, the Farmers Market also carves out space for community organizations to reach out to their neighbors and promote whatever their cause happens to be.
Scattered within those 500 community groups that stake out space at the market each year are organizations like the Yolo County Visitors Bureau and Davis Downtown, whose responsibility it is to further promote Davis and the surrounding cities.
MacNear said she’s thrilled to provide a public outlet for such organizations for the betterment of the community and added that the market does its share of Davis promotion as well.
“When (visitors) come in, we have visitor services available for them at the market, we have maps of Davis, we have bike maps … we have business directories, we have restaurant guides,” MacNear said. “We want them, by them coming to the market, to translate into making the rest of the Davis more successful also.”
The Business of the Year Award is named after Bill Streng, a longtime Davis resident and retired home builder and developer who served as a Chamber board president.
Past recipients include Yolo Federal Credit Union, 2011; Brooks Painting, 2010; Carbahal & Company, 2009; Fleet Feet Sports, 2008; Davis Ace, 2007; First Northern Bank, 2006; University Honda, 2005; Coldwell Banker-Doug Arnold Real Estate, 2004; Nugget Markets, 2003; The Davis Enterprise, 2002; Pyramid Construction, 2001; Davis Waste Removal, 2000; Novo Nordisk Biotech, 1999; Mortgage Resource Network Team at Comstock Mortgage, 1998; Cunningham Engineering, 1997; and AgraQuest, 1996.
MacNear will receive the award on behalf of the Davis Farmers Market at the Chamber’s community luncheon, Tuesday, June 4, at 11:45 a.m. at the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St.
Tickets are $18 for Chamber members and $25 for nonmembers. Register for the event and buy tickets either on the Chamber’s website at www.davischamber.com or by calling 530-756-5160.
— Reach Tom Sakash at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash