Saturday morning at the Big Island's Waimea farmers marketsby: John Wright
posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:54 AM
On most Saturday mornings, a fine mist of rain circulates through the warm sunlight and cool morning air of the market—a natural gift of sorts from neighboring grassy hills and the lush, cloud-forested Kohala Mountains in the near distance. Waimea’s consistently cool temperatures, morning sunshine, and light afternoon and evening rains create a microenvironment marked by rich soil responsible for much of the produce sold by area farmers to chefs at Hawai‘i’s ever-growing number of farm-to-table eateries and directly to customers at both Waimea farmers markets. The list of produce at both markets regularly includes heirloom tomatoes, sweet carrots, crisp bell peppers, buttery lettuce and more.
Vendor tents at the Waimea Homestead Market are placed with ample space between them on the lawn, allowing wide lanes that encourage customers to easily visit each and linger. Even on the most crowded days, the market grounds remain easy to maneuver and its environs comfortably laid back, with booths proffering everything from local-style plate lunches, warm Leige waffles and made-to-order crepes to Big Island coffees, preserves made from Island-grown fruit and, pickled vegetables and, when in season, fresh mango.
After sampling and purchasing some guava-smoked goat cheese from Honoka‘a town’s Hawai‘i Island Goat Dairy on a recent market Saturday, I made my usual beeline to Mauna Kea Tea’s booth for a steaming cup of green tea. The deep, complex flavors of the organic tea, grown a few miles south of Waimea on the uplands of the Hāmākua Coast, blended perfectly with the refreshing 62-degree morning temperature.
My reusable bags soon stuffed with dinosaur kale, mustard greens, multicolored bananas and spinach purchases, I was ready to complete my Waimea farmers market circuit.
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