South Kona Green Market -- Revisited!
We first featured the South Kona Green Market (SKGM) in the December 2010 issue #23 of the HHFN newsletter. The Sunday market recently relocated to its original home, the Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens in Captain Cook, and also celebrated its 5th anniversary.
Visible and easily accessible from Mamalahoa Highway and with plenty of parking all around, the number of vendors has grown from approximately 78 members and 35 vendors to 200 members and 80 vendors. The market is self-funded by membership participation and weekly vendor fees.
The market motto is "From The Land, By Our Hand," and vendors honor it by offering only local farm products, locally sourced value-added food products, handmade art and crafts, and sustainability oriented items (LED lights, solar power systems).
Although most of the vendors are from Kona and Ka'u, there are at least two from the Hilo and Hamakua districts.
The range of products is quite extensive but the market would like to attract a poultry vendor. The best selling items continue to be fresh produce, coffee and some of the arts and crafts products.
Special features at SKGM include a First Friday Community Rummage Sale every month, live music every Sunday, presentations and demonstrations on occasions, hosting the Master Gardeners quarterly, and a Community Health Screening on the third Sunday of every month.
Here is a sampling of some of the regular vendors you will see on any given market day.
Kela Lani Cosgrave and Brendan Roberts are the owners of Big Island Booch Kombucha located in Hilo. They have been participating in this market just a short time, and for a bit over a year at the Wednesday night market at Uncle Robert's in Kalapana. They recently opened the Big Island Booch Elixir Bar in Hilo.
When asking Kela what had inspired them to start this business, she explained that after experiencing the health benefits of Kombucha for themselves, they thought it was crazy to pay premium shipping charges to transport it to the island from her original source on the mainland, when they could be making it at home. After 4 years of perfecting their process and developing different flavors, they saw the business potential and "went for it." The ingredients used for the different blends are as much as possible locally sourced from certified organic producers or trusted local farmers that employ strict organic practices. Many of the ingredients used are seasonal with flavor combinations dependent on what is available at any given time.
The Elixir bar is featuring fresh Hawaiian Island Kava (fresh root, no powders); fresh coconut water; raw, fermented noni shots; mamaki tea; and up to 8 flavors of Kombucha on tap. Flavors include: Super Ginger Turmeric Tonic, Lilikoi Lush, Elderberry Lavender Love, Mango Merry Mint, Hibiscus Blossom Bliss, Blue-Green Dream, Naked Jasmine, Jaboticaba Jubilee, Surinam Cherry Serenity, and Cozmic Coconut Chai. As they constantly experiment with what is available, new flavor combinations appear on the menu.
In addition to the new Hilo storefront and the famers markets, Big Island Booch products can be found in several area health food stores and a few local restaurants.
Big Island Booch Elixir Bar – 794 Kilauea Avenue, Suite B, Hilo – 808/238-8493 can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bigisland.booch.56
The Big Island Moonbow Farms is owned by husband and wife team David 'Kawika' Sebag and Kristen Garrett. The farm offers organic method farming and garden services, as well as apiary services such as hive removal, pollination and small-scale honey production. Wai meli, their local raw honey, is their only product at this time, but the flavors differ since they can offer nucleus hives and queens all around the island at different times of the year. The main apiary is located in Holualoa.
Their first large harvest was in October of 2012 and made their debut with their honey at the SKGM that same month.
Kawika attended an elective apiculture class at UH-Hilo in 2010 and became fascinated by bees. With the help of his professor, Dr. Lorna Tsutsumi, he gained the knowledge to care properly for his own hives. He also had a chance to volunteer with the Hawai'i State Department of Agriculture catching swarms around the Hilo airport for data collection; this is how he acquired his first swarm.
Kawika and Kristen are firm believers in the importance and benefit of locally grown food. Their passion for beekeeping naturally evolved to additionally provide the community with local raw honey. Although not certified organic, their colonies are kept following organic practices. Additionally, the honey is not heated, processed, or treated in any way.
The honey flavors offered at this time are dark Madacamia from an orchard in Honaunau; a medium colored multi-floral Macadamia/Eucalyptus, a light multi-floral blend and a specialty creamed Eucalyptus, all from the Honoka'a area. They are looking forward to harvesting more Macadamia and some Christmas Berry honeys from their South Kona apiary locations. In addition, they hope to add more specialty creamed honeys and beeswax based products soon.
Steve VanDermyden's Oven & Butter Artisan Bakery has been in business only a year with a storefront right on Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook. A desire to bring artisan, old school breads to the community inspired him to start using slow fermentation methods to craft his bread. This method is allowing some people who are sensitive to gluten to be able to eat wheat breads again.
Although flour and grains are not locally available, Steve orders organic flours and grains and uses whatever locally available organic products he needs in the breads he makes. You can find several flavors of handmade rounds of organic artisan sourdough breads, deli rye, olive and feta cheese bread, focaccia and more. At his booth he keeps small lidded containers with samples of different breads for tastings.
Besides selling at SKGM, and in the storefront location, Oven & Butter Artisan Bakery also travels to Uncle Robert's Wednesday evening market in Kalapana.
Oven & Butter Artisan Bakery (808-777-0022), www.ovenandbutter.com.
Jeff Keith and Sharon Kirkland have an interesting story. The business name is Fire Island Coffee LLC but their farm name is Messahana Farms, and in there is a funny little tale about how the farm got its name.
When their children were small they built a sailing ship, complete with gauges and sails, from an old refrigerator box. When asked where they were sailing to, they replied "TO MESSAHANA!" It seems that Messahana was a magical land with 100 rainbows, 100 clouds, 100 waterfalls and flowers everywhere. The moment Jeff and Sharon stepped on the farm they realized that the mythical place existed right there, even though the land had been neglected for years.
Messahana Farms is located at 1500 foot elevation in the Honaunau Valley with a view from Kealakekua to Ho'okena Beach. The farm is not certified organic but they do follow organic practices. No chemicals herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers are used. Pulling vines manually, weed-whacking, applying Grow Green organic foliage spray, using diatomaceous earth, B. T. and Mycotrol O (Beauveria bassiana fungus) for the Coffee Borer Beetle is the way they have chosen to farm.
Jeff and Sharon do all of the farm work except the coffee berry picking. They weed, fertilize, prune, pulp, sun dry, roast, package, design, and print their labels and work two farmers markets a week.
They sell their roasted coffee and serve it at the market in the Kyoto cold brew method, which they make on site. This method makes the already smooth Kona coffee even smoother, and according to Jeff, contains 60% less acidity. Fire Island's best seller is their Black and Tan Coffee which is a 50-50 combination of Vienna Roast (medium) and Full City Roast (dark) beans. It is the perfect combination for the cold brew system.
They also serve their own organic lavender lemonade made with culinary French lavender and ginger. Soon they will be offering lavender extract for baking.
Other products they sell are a delightfully smoky and very hot Caribbean Red Pepper Sauce (made from pepper plants from the Caribbean where Sharon spent many years sailing), as well as produce: bok choy, Swiss chard, kale, beets, green beans, tomatoes, avocadoes, and papayas, plus oranges and tangelos when in season.
The farm offers tours where visitors can sample coffee, sit on the lanai, talk story and enjoy the view. During harvest guests are invited to strap on a bucket, grab a hook and gloves and try their hand at picking.
South Kona Green Market
Fridays & Sundays – 9 am – 2pm
Location: The Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden
82-6160 Mamalahoa Hwy – MM 110
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Manager: Timothy (Tim) Bruno
Sonia R. Martinez, the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network regular farmers market reporter, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka'a. She is a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine; and has her own food & garden blog at www.soniatasteshawaii.com.