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Saturday morning at the Big Island's Waimea farmers markets

Waimea_farmers_markets_Big_IslandMarlene Bonk’s warm, content eyes gazed into mine as I perused fresh produce, hand-picked from her farm in the bucolic Big Island ranching town of Waimea. My outstretched hands clutched a couple of Okinawan sweet potatoes the size of baby ears of corn.

“How much for these?” I asked.

Piecing together ingredients for a stir-fry, I had chosen the smallest of the bunch of purple potatoes from her Kozen Farms produce stand at the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market. A warm smile spread across Marlene’s face like a gentle tide rolling to shore.

“Just take them,” she said.

“Are you sure?” I asked, hesitating.

“You can come back and buy some bigger things next time,” she teased.

Marlene’s kindness and generosity on my first visit to the relaxed, friendly farmers market a few years back left a lasting impression. These days, my girlfriend, Melia, and I begin each Saturday in town with stops at Waimea Homestead Farmers Market and its younger, if equally down-home, sibling down the highway, the Waimea Town Market.

Planning a lengthy stay on the Big Island’s South Kohala Coast and need edibles for home-cooked meals? Perhaps you’re just passing through Waimea on an around-the-island Saturday road trip. Stop by these homegrown, homestyle country farmers markets and you’ll leave with some of the best locally grown produce in the state, purchased directly from the farmers that raised them, likely right in Waimea. And go ahead and stop for a bit and talk story with growers, too.

Since 1992, nestled on a small parcel of land occupied by a state office complex straddling Big Island-circling Māmalahoa Highway, the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market attracts a weekly pilgrimage of visitors and locals drawn to its assortment of fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, prepared goods and ready-to-eat foods, nearly all of it grown or produced in the Waimea area.

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Fresh! Tasty! Local! Recipes from the new "Hawaii Farmers Market Cookbook"
New farmers' market in Haleiwa aims to be Oahu's first to go "all-green"
Big Island’s 20th annual Waimea cherry blossom fest celebrates Hawaii-Japan ties

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