India’s got its religious festivals; Italy’s tables lure the masses; Black Rock City brings out the music and art fans; Germans unite over World Cup games. Community gatherings might take a variety of shapes around the world, but you can always bank on a place having a heart and soul–you just have to know where to find it.
Hawaii’s soul can be glimpsed at its farmers’ markets. Far from glamorous, these gatherings begin with a chant and the ringing of a bell. The masses then descend on the abundance of produce that always leaves my jaw hanging to the floor. At a typical market you can score skull-sized avocados, starfruit, locally harvested honey, or freshly roasted coffee. But the real allure is to watch the residents talk story, sing, and encourage the eating of nourishing goodness.
Below is a list of my favorite farmers’ markets in the state.
Oahu’s KCC Saturday Farmers’ Market: Get up early on Saturday morning and motor up to the state’s best market at the community college next to the entrance of Diamond Head. Keep an eye out for Pig & the Lady’s poke with fried kale chips, pineapple sausage at the sausage company, and Grandma G’s char sui fried rice. It is super crowded and parking is cra-zy! But what other farmer’s market offers complimentary straw mats to picnic on, locally grown and roasted coffees and starfruit to sample?
Big Island’s best market: In the Keauhou Shopping Center on Saturday from 8am-noon, it seems the whole island comes out for the farmer’s market. Though this is not a sprawling market, each vendor is serious about farming. Score locally grown coffee, fresh made leis, abundant produce, gifts and more. There is live music and lots of yummy food.
Kauai: At 3pm on Wednesday, cars line the parking lot at Kapa’a New Park. A chant is sung and then the masses descend on the vendors, who sell everything from local honey to soursop, apple bananas to star fruit. For a market with even more flavor, if that’s possible, head up north to Hanalei’s Saturday market (at 9:30am), which also features a fun boho-hippie vibe and plenty of keikis running around the field.
Molokai: The Saturday morning farmer’s market is the weekly event in Moloka’i, so try to plan your visit accordingly. Those of you used to sprawling markets awash with fresh fruits and veggies may not be blown away, but the the freshly made snacks and breads, tropical fruits, and the interesting collection of Hawai’iana make for a fun glimpse into local culture.
There is a Saturday market on Lanai in Dole Park, and Maui has a couple markets as well (though the best produce can be found at upcountry farms–more on that soon). For more information on Hawaii’s best farmers’ markets, click here.