Teeny Tiny Laupahoehoe Farmers Market
The Laupahoehoe Farmers Market started in September of 2009 with two enterprising women setting up a tent and selling their harvest and that of their neighbors. They persevered for several weeks until another vendor, and then another, started setting up Sunday after Sunday.
Located in the field just beyond the beautiful Royal Poinciana trees across the parking lot from the Ohana Mini Mart/gas station on Highway 19 in Laupahoehoe, the market is sponsored by the Laupahoehoe Train Museum. It has grown from the one lone tent to 12 to 15 vendors on any given Sunday morning. The last Sunday in each month usually sees the most vendors.
As a gift to the community, the cost for vendors is kept deliberately low, just $5 per space; but a state GET license is required, and some kind of protection from the weather, such as a tent or canopy.
At this market you can find fresh produce and fruits, dried fruit, delicious iced coffee drinks and snacks, and sometimes honey and smoked fish. Baked goods, homemade gelato, orchid plants and other flowers, plants, fruit and ornamental trees and craft items are also available. Crafts include jewelry, beautiful shawls, quilting, cards, and handmade soaps. A veterans' Information Booth also provides "shoe-sticks" (walking sticks).
Michael Gibson of Elemental Plants of Pa'auilo has been a vendor at this market for 8 months. Michael has been in business growing and selling both ornamental and food producing nursery plants and herbs for 12 years.
Philip and Diane Sugerman have only been participating in this market since early November 2013 but their impression is that the customers are loyal and supportive and that other vendors are very friendly and supportive.
The couple started their company, Hawaiian Grown Flavors, based in Honomu, after speaking with many farmers, taking farm tours and attending classes and workshops on agricultural and business related topics before deciding on the dried fruit business.
The products they have been making so far are dried pineapple, star fruit, papaya, and bananas which they sell in individual clear packages. They also sell mixed dried fruit packages, and Hawaiian Fruit Strips which are similar to fruit roll-ups but packaged as a flat strip.
Kaholo Daguman of Ka Uluma Gardens in Ninole has been participating in this market for the last 3 years.
He is the first one to say that to him farming is a part time hobby; he must be a very dedicated hobbyist since he grows a large variety of fruits.
On market days he loads up the bed of his truck with baskets and boxes filled with whatever is in season; bananas and plantains, including Saba, Cuban Reds, apple, and ice cream bananas. Other crops he grows are longan, Meyer lemons, tangerines, tangelos, calamondin, tangerines, liliko'i, and ice cream beans. He also grows and markets nutmeg.
If nothing else, while visiting this market, you must try Laupahoehoe's own Chef Ron Zisook's Gelato Ono. Chef Ron has been a vendor at this market for about a year, selling his homemade gelatos and baked goods.
As a chef working in a place with such an abundance of delicious fruits, he started experimenting with making dairy free, vegan, organically sweetened Italian style gelato and fresh fruit sorbet, using coconut milk and coconut cream, and a variety of whatever fresh fruit was available at the time.
He offers tastings of the delicious flavors and some intriguing combinations. Caramelized Saba Banana ice cream, Tahitian lime sorbet, Coffee-Chocolate, Coconut Macbutter, and Chocolate-Almond are just some of what was available on the day of our visit. He also bakes and sells, vegan butter shortbread cookies made with cacao nibs from his own trees and coconut brittle chips.
Arleen Hussey is the passionate manager of the Teeny Tiny Laupahoehoe Farmers Market and has been participating as one of the original vendors since the very beginning. She told me, "We may have only one tent or a few tents, but we have everything you might need or want under one beautiful Hamakua Sky!"
Although Arleen is primarily an artist and sells her work at her tent, she also represents other farmers in the area and you can find hydroponic watercress and lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet potatoes, avocadoes, tangerines, Waimea strawberries, zucchini and other produce during season at her booth.
Her artwork includes oil and acrylic works in clay, canvas, and coconuts, as well as greeting cards from photos she takes herself. Every year Arleen designs and manufactures an ornamental magnet to commemorate the Merrie Monarch Festivities.
Laupahoehoe Farmers Market
Sundays 9 am to 1 pm
Ohana Mini Mart/gas station
North of MM 26 on the Belt Road Hwy 19
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.