When the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Kapiolani Community College first opened nine years ago, I couldn’t have been happier.
Here was a bone fide outdoor market — and right in my backyard — showcasing all Hawaii grown and produced foods. Tomatoes, kale, Chinese parsley, honey, coffee, oatcakes — everything I needed for that week was here.
But over the years, the market has exploded in popularity. There are tour busses and trolley dropping off droves of tourists and police officers hired to direct traffic.
Now, I literally avoid the area.
And it’s too bad.
I’ve walked through recently and noticed more booths serving prepared foods than fresh produce, no doubt catering to the new onslaught of visitors who have no need for butter lettuce or Japanese cucumbers.
Sad as this sounds, it wasn’t worth circling for parking and fighting the crowds to get the locally grown produce I had come for. (I’m lucky enough to live near a Foodland Farms, which features fruits and veggies from Ma’o Organic Farms and Ono Organic Farms on Maui.)
It’s not that I don’t support farmer’s markets. I guess I cling to what these markets were originally intended to do — support local farmers and food producers and make these products available and accessible to the public.
See, these farmers need households like ours to support their businesses. Yes, tourism is important — ag tourism is hugely popular these days — but they still need to sell their tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and papayas. And quantity helps.
So you can imagine my excitement when I heard the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, which runs this farmers’ market, was going to add a Tuesday night market geared more toward residents. (This is HFBF’s fifth market on Oahu.)
More than 30 vendors set up their booths on Tuesday night, selling fresh produce, plants and flowers, and the popular prepared foods such as pizza, guava-smoked pork, malassadas and cheesecake. And so far, it hasn’t lured the throngs of people its Saturday counterpart does.
So I’m holding out hope for this one.
Saturday Farmers’ Market, 7:30 to 11 a.m. every Saturday, Kapiolani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Rd.; 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays through Aug. 14.