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The Heart of Davis

By: Wei Qing Lim

Illustration by Pete Scully

I’ve had a lot of time to think during my 14-day quarantine in Malaysia. It’s rainy season here in KL, and that means heavy rain with the occasional crash of thunder. I am not a fan of the rain, especially after experiencing four years of winter in Davis, but right now, I would give anything to go outside and get caught in it. Being stuck in a small hotel room has me reminiscing about better times, and most recently, I’ve been thinking about the Davis Farmers Market.

Ahh, the Davis Farmers Market, affectionately known as the “Far Mar.” Local produce farmers, bakers, restauranteurs, and coffee connoisseurs set up in the wee hours of the morning, and by 8 am, Central Park is hustling and bustling with people of all ages, from college students to families and kids, and older folks. The second you step into Central Park, you’re greeted by The Hotdogger’s large and corny “Don’t be a weenie, just have one!” sign, and bombarded with different smells coming from all directions.

To your left, you’ll see the famous booth selling Davis Far Mar merch. It’s TRADITION to get something from the store. I’ve been sporting the iconic grey Farmers Market baseball cap since sophomore year, and it’s common to see people on campus wearing the same hat in different colors!

It’s hard to put the atmosphere of the Farmers Market into words— what is usually an empty strip on the weekdays (except for Wednesday afternoons— the day the Farmers Market makes its weekday comeback) magically transforms into a bustling hub of activity on Saturdays. It is the only time everyone in Davis, and I mean, everyone, will gather together. We are all here for the same reason-- we love the fresh fruits, the delicious local food stands ranging from Indian food, and tamales to your classic avocado toast or corn dog, and we linger for the atmosphere. While the green benches and picnic tables are popular seating options, I always search for a spot on the grass-- it’s always an impossible mission though, because every inch of Central Park is covered with a picnic blanket by 10 am.

Central Park is truly a sight to behold. Chatter is in the air-- among the different conversations, a band’s playing, people are juggling, and playing catch. There’s also a petting zoo, a human-powered merry-go-round, a playground, and so much more. It is the perfect place for teeny, tiny, kids, college students, 30-somethings, our middle-aged parents, and grandma and grandpa. We all love it just the same.

As for the Farmers Market itself, each stall offers high quality, farm to table produce for affordable prices (I scored a massive basket of strawberries for a spicy $6!). After stocking up on fruits and vegetables for the week, you must get some bread! It's hard not to get excited by the rows of freshly baked pastries and bread further down the strip. I always head straight for the pita bread stall for my weekly fix of gluten-free spinach flatbread and a sample of the famous dips. The cilantro and sweet chili dips are my favorite combo ever, and pairs so well with the flatbread! Content with my nectarines, figs, pluots, and bread, I venture further down the farmers market to the next set of stalls, ready to splurge my money on all sorts of plants that are simply perfect for a living room or bedroom. It’s easy to lose yourself in the succulent and plant world— Ilona went in to buy one plant, and we ended up hauling three potted friends back home.

I have so many fond memories of the Far Mar. It encapsulates the Davis vibe and reveals a little about the people who live there-- we are quirky, diverse, open-minded, community-oriented, and most importantly, we care deeply about agriculture and the people who grow the food we eat. This is Davis in its core.

It’s truly unique and something you’ll have to experience yourself, and I think you’ll get it the second you step onto the worn, grey, and peach tiled floor. You’ll see the charm of it all. As for myself, I cannot wait for the day I get to go to the Farmers Market in the springtime. Until then, though, Far Mar, you’ll be missed!

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