If you are visiting the Sacramento area and you want a quick snap shot of how different different places are from one another, look no further than the Farmer’s Market. The Davis Farmer’s Market is frequently awarded for its excellence. The city has built a solid structure to house it on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Located in the heart of downtown in Central Park at 4th and C streets, it attracts hundreds of residents per hour mostly arriving on foot or by bicycle. It is a celebration of neighborliness, challenging a serious shopper to bob and weave through the clusters of friends catching up, buying tickets to the high school musical, and arranging play dates for their kids or dogs.
The selection of fruit, vegetables, honey, eggs, cheese, meat, bread, coffee and flowers is impressive. There are also crafts, community groups and musicians.
You can mock how groovy it all seems. Or you can find it incredibly charming. Your choice. It happens every week, so if it is a performance, then they are consistently good. Parking is easy to find within a few blocks and if you walk a few blocks to your car you’ll also find good restaurants for breakfast or lunch and more shopping.
If you are coming from the Bay Area, there is an Amtrak station about 10 blocks from Central Park and an easy stroll through town.
Sacramento has many Farmer’s Market (see post on Oak Park), but the largest of all of the Certified Farmers Markets is the one beneath the freeway in a State parking lot at 8th and W Streets. Held each Sunday from 8-12, it is great if soccer schedules keep you from getting to the market on Saturday. The roof of the market is the Capitol City Freeway (locals call it the WX freeway). A picture is worth a thousand words:
I was struck by the same great variety of vendors, although fewer community groups are represented and a musician would struggle to be heard over the roar of freeway traffic. It is much harder to find parking as few people walk or bicycle to this market. This is a market, first and foremost, with hundreds of people looking for a bargain (either actual or perceived: quality not found elsewhere). This is a place where you swoop in to buy your oysters, fresh feta cheese, mushrooms, asian vegetables and get out. There are lines at some stands to pay and an interesting mix of people but very little interaction among shoppers. Is it fair to say this is quintessential Sacramento? Perhaps in neighborhoods within Sacramento you’d find a different vibe, or among families at a school carnival. At the same time the vast numbers of discount stores, thrift stores, and Costco-like superstores speaks to the inner skinflint in every Sacramentan. This location is also practical, so what if it is devoid of any joy. After all, Sacramento is saving its public dollars for a new arena.