Kino'ole Farmers Market
The Kino’ole Farmers Market in southern Hilo has a big advantage over other similar markets on the windward side of Hawai’i Island. It is situated in the parking lot of the State Employment Office off Kino'ole St. with ample parking space all around, and plenty of space for shoppers to stroll between the booths without feeling crowded. This is a big consideration when you live on the rainy side of the island and umbrellas are a necessary accessory!
At the Kino’ole market you can buy a wide variety of farm-fresh produce, baked goods, and horticulture products. There is a colorful selection of fresh vegetables and fruits; hot homemade soups; fresh baked breads and pastries; locally made taro chips and cookies; veggie and herb starts; and flowers and plants. A center tent is always set up for well attended weekly presentations of Chi Gong, a Chinese exercise meditation that is similar to Tai Chi. The tent is also used from time to time for workshops, lectures and cooking demonstrations.
|Cyrus Wagatsuma is a vendor who has been with this market since its inception in 2007. Cyrus is a life-long farmer and can’t imagine doing anything else. His farm is located at about the 600 foot elevation just outside Papa‘ikou. His specialty is growing four different kinds of sweetpotatoes, and he also grows ginger, taro, tomatoes, Chinese peas, scallions, broccoli, beans, cucumbers, Swiss chard, yellow crooked neck squash, gobo and other seasonal vegetables. He is best known for what has become his signature crop: a yellow watermelon. Although not using completely organic methods, Cyrus said he is very careful about how he tends his fields as he and his family also eat what he grows. You can find Cyrus tending his booth every single Saturday.||
|Aaron and Vinel Sugino and their Blue Kalo Company have been selling at this market for about 30 months. Their farm is located in Hakalau on fertile land they purchased 24 years ago. They report that the farm has very rich soil, where they grow ulu, taro, yellow and purple sweet potatoes, avocado, beans, corn, bananas, soybeans and peanuts. Blue Kalo processes their crops into value-added products they sell at the market and at their store location on Banyan Drive in Hilo including chips made from taro, sweetpotato and ulu; muffins; banana bread; and cookies. An outstanding product is their Poi Chocolate Chip cookies. And we recently tasted their delicious muffins made with avocados. According to Vinel, their best selling products are the chips. When asked what she likes best about participating in the market, Vinel said, “I love that we are the farmers and we can answer any question the customer asks. Also, we have all the freshest products in town.”|
|Patty and Bob Ferazzi of Makea Nursery in Pepe’ekeo have been participating in the Kino’ole Farmers Market since February 2009. They started their farm in May of 2007 and grow exotic fruits, avocados, vegetable and herb starts as well as orchids, cycads, bromeliads and other flowers in their loamy soil and in a greenhouse. The best selling plants at this time seem to be the herb and vegetable starts. They enjoy the market and comment that they have noticed how it has been expanding since they first started participating.|
|Jennifer and Rusty Perry of Kapoho Grown, have been constant vendors since the market opened in 2007. The Perry’s farm, which they have owned for 30 years, is located at 300 feet in elevation in the Kapoho area and has soil that is very rocky. Although the farm is not certified organic, they employ many organic practices and in their hydroponic vegetable business uses OMRI certified pesticides when they must deal with insects (very infrequently). They do maintain sustainable practices throughout as much as possible. The farm is growing a diverse mix of lettuce and tomatoes (Food Safety Certified by Primus Labs), papayas, avocado, bananas, tangerine, Navel orange, tangelo, lemons, longan, lychee and rambutan as well as soursop and a few other miscellaneous fruit. Kapoho Grown also cultivates several hundred varieties of orchids that call attention to their booth. Rusty says “We are country folk, and have been making a living on the farm with some help from outside jobs. Our best selling items are the orchids and papayas, but many fruits are really popular in season. Lettuce and tomatoes are a growing market. This is a great market where customers can count on meeting the farmer or chef who grew or made the food. Our customers are wonderful!”|
The Kino‘ole Farmers Market,
Saturdays, 7 am - Noon
Location: 1990 Kinoole St.,
Sponsors: A partnership of the Hilo, Hamakua, and Kohala County Farm Bureaus.
Type of market: Only Hawai’i grown food, plants, or Hawai’i made food products. Most vendors are growers, bakers, etc.
Date started: August 2007
How Funded: Initial grant from Hawai’i Farm Bureau, Hawai’i Department of Agriculture.
Cost per stall/booth: Base price is $25, with discounts for helping set up and take down community tents, etc.
Growth since started: First market had 6 vendors. It now has 18 to 24. During special holidays there may be more. Diversity of products- Many more fruits, vegetables, plants. Multiple vendors for many products give customers additional choices. Increase in income- Tripled vendors, tripled income.
Vendors come from: North Hilo, South Hilo, Puna, Hamakua.
Current Products: Vegetables, fruits, herbs, value-added chips, baked goods, veggie & herb starts, flowers, plants. No eggs, dairy, meat, or seafood at this time. Growing methods - conventional, unsprayed, certified organic. Best selling products - May depend on season. Bread, taro chips, orchids, fresh soup, vegetables, fruits, especially papayas. The market does not track vendor sales.
Products wanted: Farm-fresh eggs
Special Events: Chi Gong class every market day, and occasional workshops, lectures or cooking demonstrations.
Sonia Martinez, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka’a, She is a contributing writer to Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine and has her own food & garden blog at soniatasteshawaii.com