Although Hawaii is no longer an agricultural powerhouse, the market for locally grown produce is still alive and well in the Aloha State. Nowhere is this more evident than in the farm stands and farmers’ markets you’ll find all over Hawaii.
To give you a sense of what you’ll find at one of Hawaii’s many farmers’ markets, we headed to the Upcountry Farmers’ Market on Maui. This Saturday market is one of Maui’s biggest and most popular, and it’s been operating in some form or another for 40+ years. Currently, it’s held on Saturday mornings from 7:00 am to 11:00 am at the Kulamalu Town Center in Pukalani.
In addition to some of the freshest produce on Maui, you’ll also find plenty of local delicacies, like artisanal honey from the biodynamic farm up the road; fermented beverages like kombucha and kefir; coconut in all forms—milk, water, yogurt, and “bacon” (flakes baked in the oven with spices); fresh-caught fish; baked goods; smoothies; health tonics; and more. Artists and artisans also bring out their made-on-Maui crafts, and several chefs set up shop to sell pasteles, empanadas, Thai food, Indian dishes, and more.
Farmers’ markets like this one offer Maui-based producers, bakers, chefs, artists, and artisans the opportunity to sell their locally made items directly to residents and tourists. By purchasing from one of these farmers’ markets, you’re contributing directly to Maui’s economy, as well as the livelihood of local producers.
Patronizing a farmers’ market is also a great way to grow your community. Show up a few weeks in a row, and you’ll start seeing people you know and exchanging hellos while you shop.
Curious what we found this week at the Upcountry Farmers’ Market? We’ll take you on a tour.
Abundant Fresh Produce: Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs
At the Upcountry Farmers’ Market, you’ll see plenty of produce you’re already familiar with, like tomatoes, eggplant, cilantro, beets, radishes, mint, chives, swiss chard, papaya, and kale, much of which is either certified organic or farmed using organic methods.
You’ll also find some unusual items you might not get as often on the mainland, like dragonfruit, jackfruit, or apple bananas.
One of the biggest produce stands at the market belongs to Okoa Farms. Their booth is always bustling with buyers and plenty of employees to assist. Okoa had a whopping 110+ items on hand this weekend:
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The Upcountry Farmers’ Market also features a number of smaller producers, who are also well worth your time. Often, these operators have a little more time to talk story and answer questions about produce you’re less familiar with, including ways to cook these items. So don’t be shy!
Gorgeous Flowers & Plants to Brighten Your Space
Living on Maui is all about being surrounded by natural beauty, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to beautify your home or office with flowers and plants from the farmers’ market.
This past Saturday, live orchids and hibiscus plants were available for purchase. There were also plenty of gorgeous cuttings, including arrangements featuring the distinctive bird of paradise. In season, you’ll also see plenty of protea flowers at the Upcountry Farmers’ Market. These spiky, vibrant flowers resemble exploding fireworks, making for dramatic, unique displays.
Tasty Treats and Satisfying Sips
Bring your appetite to the Upcountry Farmers’ Market, where you’ll find plenty of options for sipping and snacking. (Or take some home for later!)
We stopped and chatted with Kyle Flemming, co-owner of Pauwela Beverage Company, who was offering samples of water kefir. Because water kefir uses different microorganisms in its starter culture, it doesn’t have that vinegar tang that distinguishes kombucha, he explained. If you don’t love that distinctive sour flavor of kombucha, give water kefir a try.
Pauwela Beverage recently introduced Hawaii’s first hard kombucha, available at stores on Maui as well as on tap at nearby Mahalo Aleworks. Flemming and his business partner (and wife!) Cady Cox also operate Booch + Coco, a café and espresso bar in Haiku, with plans to expand to include a tasting room. Follow them on Instagram to stay updated.
In addition to sampling water kefir, we also spotted a number of food options: pasteles, Thai food, coconut goodies like spiced coconut milk and vegan coconut “bacon,” empanadas, small-batch sauerkraut, body-nurturing tonics, local coffee, banana bread, vegan cheesecake, and plenty of other baked goods. Additionally, the Star Anise food truck was on hand, dishing out delicious Indian food like chicken tikka masala and vegetable biryani.
Made on Maui Art, Jewelry, and Home Décor
When you’re shopping on Maui, it can sometimes feel challenging to find something that’s actually made on the island. Not so at the Upcountry Farmers’ Market, where we saw jewelry, hand-knitted clothing, bags made from repurposed burlap coffee sacks, dreamcatchers, and pottery—all made on Maui.
We stopped to talk to the owners of Tree Board Guys, who turn out woodworking creations from reclaimed wood gathered on Maui. They showed us their cutting boards, sushi boards, earrings, keepsake boxes, coasters, and kitchen implements.
Their goal is to collect wood on the island, including driftwood, and repurpose it into new items without every cutting a living tree. They’re at the Upcountry Farmers’ Market every Saturday. If you need a housewarming gift, stop on by:
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Your Local Representatives in Person
Also on hand at the Upcountry Farmers’ Market was Yuki Lee Sugimura, the Maui County Councilmember who represents Upcountry residents. She made herself available to talk story during the duration of the market. If you wanted to chat about an issue, why not stop by the farmers’ market and meet your Councilmember face to face?
Right next door to Councilmember Sugimura was the Maui County Department of Water Supply offering free water fixtures in exchange for completing a short survey.
Both of these booths are an excellent representation of the opportunities that Hawaii’s farmers’ markets create for creating community. We saw plenty of people lining up at both stands.
Farmers’ Markets: Your Connection to the Community
On the face of it, farmers’ markets might simply seem like great places to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. They are—but they’re also so much more than that. Hawaii’s farmers’ markets are a lifeline for local Maui businesses, including the island’s artists, artisans, growers, makers, and craftspeople. It’s a place where the community gathers to talk story, exchange ideas, or simply greet each other with pleasantries. It’s also a place to delight your senses with new sights, smells, tastes, and sounds.
You’ll find farmers’ markets all over Hawaii. Don’t miss this chance to support your local community—and become an even more integral part of it—by stopping into your favorite market regularly.
Thinking about moving to Hawaii? We’d love to help with a safe, easy, and affordable move. Just reach out for a complimentary quote. Plus, we’ve got teams on all four major islands (and two locations on the Big Island!), so we can direct you to our favorite farmers’ market near your new home. Just ask!