Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Davis Farmers Market is artful place, thanks to manager's mom

Published: Thursday, Mar. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Perhaps, like me, you have walked through the Davis Farmers Market and occasionally paused to admire how artfully arranged it all is. Well, it seems we have Randii MacNear's 89-year-old mother to thank for it.

MacNear, the manager at the Davis Farmers Market, told me that when her mother, artist Johanna Gillman, visited museums and galleries to study paintings, her little girl would be in tow. MacNear went on to earn a fine arts degree at Antioch College in Ohio.

"The Davis Farmers Market is really my painting, and I … use my aesthetic eye to dress the market and choose the colors and put things next to each other," MacNear told me.

Her goal is to lure people to the farmers market where they can be nurtured.

"It's what life is supposed to be about – eating good food, visiting, playing with your kids, being in a park, seeing trees, seeing flowers," she said.

MacNear has been a fixture at the Davis Farmers Market for 32 of its 37 years. Vendors there gross roughly $2 million a year in sales. MacNear has worked in California and nationally to expand the number of certified farmers markets and farm-to-school lunch programs. She also guided the creation of the Farmers Market Coalition, a central hub where market managers and vendors can network, learn new things and speak collectively.

Family farmers recently recognized MacNear for her efforts, naming her to the Hall of Fame established by the North American Farmers' Direct Marketing Association. Brent Warner, who served with MacNear on the board of that organization for many years, said: "Randii … fought for small farmers when no one was listening, and she helped to create the environment that now allows farmers and farmers markets to be successful all across North America."

Farmers can thank MacNear's grandmother, Rose Gillman, for that. She encouraged healthy eating, including daily doses of vitamins, wheat germ and orange juice.

Mom, Dad, where's lunch?

Don't be surprised if architect Brian Crilly of Lionakis wants you to check out his favorite new lunch hangout on the corner of 14th and O streets in Sacramento.

Don't be surprised if he can rattle off the names of a few suppliers. And, don't doubt him if he says he knows all the ingredients that come on a Viareggio or a Roma sandwich.

No, Crilly doesn't own the place. His parents do.

Kevin and AnneMarie Crilly founded Zia's Delicatessen 18 years ago on Third Street in Davis, and now they've opened a new location next door to Magpie Café's Yellowbill.

"Our kids want to see us expand," Kevin Crilly told me. "They want to remain in the family business."

That would be the two youngest kids, Angela and Jonathan Crilly, both of whom went off to college but returned to work in the family business. They now run the Sacramento store.

"Growing up, they worked alongside our other employees," Crilly said. "They were making sandwiches. They were helping customers. They were mopping floors. They were doing banking. They literally know the business inside and out, just like my wife and I do."

Crilly wouldn't divulge sales, but he's very pleased with how things are going.

"My wife and I were out there for the first couple weeks after we opened," he said, "and we were very surprised by the number of people we saw that we knew from our Davis store. So there's a lot of people who live in Davis and work in Sacramento, and vice versa, people who live in Sacramento and work in Davis."

And, there was one particular Lionakis architect whom Crilly would have been surprised not to see.

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193.

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