Denio’s Farmers’ Market and Swap Meet

denios produce

[This review is the first in a series of reviews. I will be visiting the different farmers’ markets throughout the Sacramento area to tell you what types of things you can find at each, who is selling what, and where their products came from.]

Although I loved the large open air market, and fresh, mostly local, selection at Denio’s Farmer’s Market, I have to say I wasn’t impressed by an exotic array of hard to find organics, or that amazingly sweet smell that envelopes you when you are standing amongst ripe, fresh fruit, or that deep earthy aroma of fresh vegetables. This is not a blow your mind or gourmet farmer’s market.


Organic Cherries are reasonably priced at grocery store quality.
Photo: Catherine Buckman.

This is not to say that the produce in the market was not gorgeous, in-fact it was, and very reasonably priced. The quality was similar to that of grocery store produce, yet cheaper and with a larger variety of more international fruits, veggies and spices.

The most impressive of all the varieties was the many different types of peppers that were featured. Anaheim, Habanero, Jalapeño, Thai red Chile, and many, many more. There were fruits of all kinds: stone fruit, apples, bananas, berries, mangos, pineapples, papayas. Each piece of the harvest laid out beautifully, in this old-world type of open air market.

Most notably the farmers market has developed a system where they can accommodate the CalFresh ( formerly the food-stamp program) customer. The system exchanges coins for EBT and allows each family to decide exactly which produce they pick for their families. The program is a great encouragement for low income families to eat healthfully. I do have to say I would find this a more genuine effort if Denio’s would stop selling pure grease and sugar at their swap meet food stands. I looked around and it was like all that good work was for not. I noticed a lot of kids eating corn dogs, drinking sodas, ironically pushing around a cart full of fresh fruit and vegetables. I know, baby steps.

Looking for some ingredients for an authentic Indian, Asian, or Mexican meal? A great feature of this market is the bulk spices. The prices are significantly cheaper and often they are fresher than packaged ones. Its hard to imagine this spice collection couldn’t satisfy even the most adventurous of foodies.


Bulk herbs and spices galore. Photo: Catherine Buckman.

The real draw to Denio’s is undoubtably the swap meet /flea market. There are people buzzing about, and kids swarming around the vendors with big smiles on their faces. The selection of dollar priced costume jewelry, dirt cheap socks, dolls, knives, incense, and clothes-everything up for negotiation- really gives kids a sense of power and also boldness, asking for something different at every turn.

The afternoon was spent by the time we left Denio’s. I was hopeful to see the CalFresh program working in such a large open air market and glad to have ventured to my first Sacramento area farmers market.


Parking-$3 Bottom line: Keeping low income families eating healthfully. Plus, a great place to buy socks. Photo: Catherine Buckman.

The next hour was one of the worst in my life. I spent an hour in the heat with 3 small children looking for my car. Exhausted after walking up and down the lot many times we collapsed on a shuttle bench. It was then I looked across the street and realized there are 2 different lots, both quite large for parking…so make a mental note of where your spot is.

Denio’s Farmers’ Market is open Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..

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