Visitors will love the diversity
at Kauai’s farmer’s markets.
The sky looks like rain, so the coordinator of the Kauai Sunshine
Market in Kapaa sounds the bell early. Folks can browse, but
vendors can’t sell until the bell rings at any of the county
farmer’s markets that rotate around the island. Stalls of homegrown
fruits, vegetables, herbs and tropical flowers line both sides of
the parking lot at Kapaa New Town Park on the island’s east side.
Avocados, papayas, bananas, pineapples, grapefruit, rambutan,
lemons and limes line buckets and baskets. Green onions, ginger,
cucumbers, sweet potatoes, basil and beets adorn tabletops.
Sonia King buys an armful of red ginger and a spray of orchids.
Gay Davis scoops up a bouquet of totsoi (Chinese flat cabbage).
Leia Melead heads straight to Moloaa Organica’s stall and makes her
purchase from piles of collards, kale, arugula and organic mixed
greens. Women push babies in strollers, stowing sweet corn, alfalfa
sprouts, star fruit, parsley and cilantro in the strollers’ storage
baskets. Children drink from coconuts.
Tony Lydgate sometimes sells produce from his eight-acre
Steelgrass Farm, but today he is shopping.
“The farmer’s markets are an opportunity for visitors to expand
the boundaries of their culinary experience,” said Lydgate. “We
have a diverse ethnic population on Kauai, so they’ll find a
variety of fruits and vegetables.”
Table of avocados at a farmer’s market
Variety is one reason to experience one of Kauai’s farmer’s
markets. Freshness is another.
“This beautiful tropical island imports 90 percent of its
produce,” Lydgate said. “The bananas in local grocery stores come
from Costa Rica. Sweet peppers come from greenhouses in
Kauai grocery store managers want to carry local produce, which
is inarguably much fresher than the produce that arrives “on a
barrel of oil,” as Lydgate put it, but the grocers need a
guaranteed supply and a multi-million-dollar liability insurance
policy from their vendors. Both requirements pose problems for
local growers, who are more backyard farmers than commercial
Enter farmers’ markets. The seven county-sponsored Sunshine
Markets give backyard farmers a place to sell the fruits of their
efforts. Because of their popularity, it’s a good idea for clients
to arrive on time, or even early if it looks like rain. Then, too,
they should bring an umbrella. If it’s sunny, wear a hat. Carry a
handful of dollar bills for easy transactions. And bring a basket