The image people seem to have of Hawai`i is one of luxurious living that is mostly out of the reach of most mainlanders – not just to buy a home, but to even visit for a short vacation.
The truth is that much of Hawai`i would be considered more like a third world state by some standards. I remember asking my brother about getting something printed. He nonchalantly said, "Just take it down to Kinko's." When I said we have no Kinko's, he was in utter shock.
What?? No Kinko's?
It may come as a surprise to many of our friends on the mainland and in other parts of the world that until recently, we had no Borders, no Costco, no Kmart (and more). I hear we will be getting a Target sometime next year! There are new stop lights where none existed ten years ago. Many dirt roads are just now getting paved
When I was a pastor in Pahala and Na`alehu, two plantation villages near my present home, I invited a work team of students from a mainland university to come during Spring Break. They had no idea what they were running into, and people in their home towns scoffed at the notion of these students doing volunteer work for needy people in Hawai`i. Most thought they were coming over here to surf and have fun. A group of changed students carried a different message back home at the end of their week.
Things are different down in our isolated district of Ka'u (two syllables – Kah-oo). The area of Ka'u is larger than the county (island) of Oahu, and much of it is lava, just like my acre. Many people live "off the grid," and have no electricity or phone service. I have already written about the need for living on catchment, which means catching our own rain water. That's not an economic necessity, but just the way it is in this part of the island.
As a result, "buying locally" isn't simply a trendy thing to do here. For us here it is another of those necessities. Take a walk with me down the paths between vendors and see what you can buy.
I don't grow corn, but others bring corn to the market – so beautiful and delicious! I am eating one right now, as I write this blog. Don't mind the butter dripping on your screen.
Albert and Lily Ledergerber have a stand here several times a month, but not this week. He came to do their week's groceries, however, and he showed me the fresh corn
Another friend (Lorie Obra) grows, picks, processes and roasts her own coffee from her estate. Personally, I think that Ka'u grown coffee is much richer and more consistent than Kona coffee, but don't tell anyone I said that.
The first stop I make at the market is to Lorie's stand for a cup to sip while I do my shopping for the week's vegetables and fruits. She always bakes some sort of pastry to accompany it.
The seasons vary but some things are available year-round.
You can buy local honey, Japanese eggplant, several varieties of lettuce, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, homemade breads, local mac nuts (macadamia), and so much more.
One loaf of whole wheat bread was over $6.00 at one of the chain groceries in Kona this past week. Is it any wonder most of us either buy from "the breadman" or make our own?
I doubt if there are too many of these being sold in the mainland markets - Artocarpus heterophyllus. We call this "jackfruit." They can get bigger than this, but here you can compare the fruit to the basket. Be sure to click on the link to see what it looks like inside.
There are too many good things to get pictures of them all. Eventually, I will feature more of the individual vendors. Today is just an overview
I do a lot of wishful thinking around the plants that are for sale
Artisans bring handmade garments, gourds and more
The jewelry here was all created by one woman. I plan to do a feature on her soon. She has made some of the most beautiful jewelery I've ever coveted. This shot is only one small end of what she displays on her table.
You can even buy locally made soaps and scents.
Marge and Dennis Elwell of Na`alehu Main Street said this market was begun with four farmers getting together in order to sell their produce. It has gradually grown to the size it is now. Marge and Dennis proudly wear their "Ka'u Farmers' Market" t-shirts
The Na`alehu Farmer's Market is held on the front lot of the Ace Hardware store every Wednesday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am until to noon. At certain times of the year, the buying is more skimpy, but there is nearly always something to be found.
There are other farmer's markets on the island, and bigger ones, but none has quite the hometown cozy feel of the one in Na`alehu. If there is someone you need to talk with, you can almost count on them being there
This is an area of the Big Island that most tourists know nothing about. If you are a visitor to our island and you just happen to be driving on Highway 11 through Na`alehu in the District of Ka'u, please stop and see what the excitement is about. You will be treated to some of our local fare
Here's summer squash, fresh from our Na`alehu Farmers' Market. I'll have it for supper with a warm whole wheat tortilla I just made. Join me?
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