Feature Photo:lrargerich | Photo Above:Ethan Hein

If your visit to Hawaii is anything like mine, it won’t take you long to find a local (or three) preaching the connection between Hawaii’s people and its land and waters, the importance of the seasons’ turning, and the edible bounty that the islands provide. Other locals might talk about the importance of supporting local agriculture on a cluster of islands hundreds of miles from the mainland; imports are expensive, and the price gets paid in both cash and carbon output. Either way you look at it, a farmers’ market or two is something to consider when creating your Hawaiian itinerary.

Here’s your chance to pick up fresh, sustainable, local produce — and maybe get a taste of that land-water-people connection while you’re at it.

Hilo Farmers Market (Big Island)

For travelers to the Big Island, Hilo Farmers Market is the spot for locally grown fruits and vegetables. But there’s more to the market than fresh produce. Pam Mandel, who blogs about all things Hawaii at Holoholo Wale, describes the market as “a crazy mash up of white girls in dreadlocks selling you vegan scones and Filipino ladies who scowl at you when you fondle the pineapple a little too much and Hawaiian guys hanging out waiting for their cousins because canoe practice is right across the way there.”

The Hilo Farmers Market is open six days a week (it closes on Fridays), but its biggest and busiest days are Saturday and Wednesday.

Saturday Farmers’ Market at Kapi’olani Community College (O’ahu)

The Saturday Farmers’ Market is held right in the heart of Honolulu, on the KCC campus and (conveniently enough) just across the street from the Diamond Head trail entrance. It casts a wider net than some of the islands’ markets with promises that all products are Hawaii-grown, rather than O’ahu-grown or even South Shore-grown, and includes offerings like Kaua’i-raised shrimp and organic, grass-fed beef alongside the fruits and veggies.

The vendors open their doors each Saturday from 7:30 AM to 11 AM. The Saturday Farmers’ Market isn’t just for shoppers, either – each week, a different vendor serves up hot breakfast plates.

Hale Halawei Farmer’s Market/Cultural Festival (Kaua’i)

Kaua’i’s most vibrant market takes place at Hanalei’s community center, Hale Halawai ‘Ohana ‘O Hanalei — meaning “a house for the coming together of the family of Hanalei.” The non-profit facility aims to offer a range of family and community services with an emphasis on traditional Hawaiian culture; the calendar features everything from hula classes to slack key concerts to the weekly farmers’ market.

The Hale Halawai Farmer’s Market runs from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM every Saturday. Vendors offer fresh produce, prepared local foods and crafts, and when the weather cooperates there’s live music throughout.

Upcountry Farmers Market (Maui)

The Upcountry Farmers Market has been operating in various locations and incarnations for more than 30 years, and it’s just settled into a new spot in Kulamalu Town Center.

Charlene Ka’uhane, an active member of Slow Food Maui, picks Upcountry as her favorite among Maui’s markets. Says Ka’uhane: “This is where many of Mauiʻs upcountry farmers are found early Saturday mornings. Many of the farmers have been selling direct to their loyal customers since they first started the market at the Eddie Tam Park.”

The Upcountry Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 7 AM to noon. In addition to the usual local produce, you’ll also find fresh-caught fish and Maui-grown coffees on sale.

Community Connection:

If you want to see what goes on behind the table at a farmers’ market, consider volunteering at one – Nancy Harder gives 8 Fun Ways to Volunteer for Farmers Markets.

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