Adventure your way through Maui’s food and farming community

reHeading up the mountain from town early on Saturday the air cleared and cooled as we went up the freeway. Above Pukalani, behind Kulamalu town center near Longs, the stage was already quite crowded by 8am on a Saturday morning. We braved the early morning alarm and crowds of motivated customers after hearing wonderful stories about the abundance of diverse vendors hawking the freshest vegetables, delicious prepared meals, and interesting ranges of baked goods, plants. and cut flowers at the Upcountry Farmer’s Market.

Farmers’ markets, far from being a trendy novelty, are actually a throwback to tradition, before shipping companies and industrial farming practices created supermarkets and took us away from the beekeepers who harvested our honey, from the farmer. who grew our daily food and from the butcher who slaughtered our animals. Our state and nation’s farmer’s markets have sprung up to directly connect farmers with their customers, creating a shared space for the exchange of healthy and fresh and community food, and filling one of the gaps created. by modern practices.

The Upcountry Farmer’s Market contains an eclectic variety to meet the needs of the diverse community it serves. From produce to baked goods, from raw foods to vegans to gluten-free foods, ready meals ranging from Korea, Thailand, India and beyond, and fresh fruits and vegetables from all over the world. tropical colors, sizes and varieties – this market will put you in touch.

Besides the goods, the best part of the market is the healthy and happy vibe. This is especially felt between sellers, who favor the community over the competition. During our walk through the market, the vendors encouraged us to see their friends at the bottom of the row, talk and call each other, joke around and share news, products and customers.

In terms of practicality, some good practices for a farmer’s market visit are to BYOB (bring your own bags) and be aware that part of the process is talking about the story with your local vendors. Earlier is usually better in any market, especially because many sellers sell out quickly. You might also want to save cash for sellers who don’t accept credit cards.

Armed with our canvas bags and dollar bills, we started out needing initial fuel for our trip. So we followed our noses to Uma Dugied’s space for Indian food. Without any discernible sign or price, this one-woman show had a line snaking around her tent, which is usually a good sign. “What would you like, my love? she asked, turning her bright smile on us when it was our turn. Hidden in her large metal pots, she had curries, dal, and other perfectly spiced savory treats, with plenty of vegetarian options. We ordered some samosas and moved on, looking for something to drink.

We ended up at the booth of Maui Jun, a kombucha made from green tea and raw Hawaiian honey, according to enthusiastic and welcoming owner Taryn Leigh, who encouraged us to taste everything. His rainbow of drinks included Kula Strawberry Jam, Lilikoi Tumeric Ginger, and Root Beer. “It’s like champagne with honey,” said Leigh enthusiastically. It was delicious and sparkling with fresh flavors.

Next door, Justin Orr from HI Spice let us pour samples of his hot sauce over our Uma samosas. Its flavors ranged from mango-banana to turmeric, ginger and smoked scorpion. Using a variety of local ingredients, like Kula raspberries, pineapple, and dragon fruit, Orr makes “flavors you don’t see elsewhere,” he said, telling us how he puts it together. emphasis on flavor rather than extreme spiciness: “I’m not trying to face you,” he joked, showing us the heat scale on the back to determine the hot sauce tolerance quotas.

From there we met our friends Emma and Trip, who were also walking around for treats. “We come here every week,” Emma told us, showing us her basket full of fresh broccoli and heading to some of her favorite stalls.

Aunt Pi’ilani then attracted us. “I have to bring the food the Hawaiians eat,” she told us, showing her products of poi, kalo, haupia, handmade kulolo and mamaki tea. In addition to traditional foods, Aunt Pi’ilani also offers ho’oponopono card readings to help people better understand their current situation. The old practice is for reconciliation, often led by traditional healers. “It’s like opening the phone line to the operator,” she said, describing her intuitive reading process.

Next stop through the crowded market was Coconut Willy, one of the iconic market vendors, and my sister’s classmate, who has been selling at the market for 11 years, “back when it was Eddie Tam “, he told us. He describes the amoeba he picked up while surfing in Indonesia and which led him down the coconut-lined path. Nothing helped to cure it except for the fresh raw coconut water: “I have been blessed by the power of the fruit,” he said, and was called to share it with. his community. He opened a young coconut for us with his machete.

Right next door were the Byrd sisters of Waiakoa Wildflowers, who grow flowers on their family land in Kula. Zena and Tessa also play music and sew leather bags by hand. Another group of sisters, Ashley and Lisa of Petaloom Flower Co., also sell handmade flower bouquets that they grow themselves.

Our adventure of choice ended at the Pono Grown farm table, where there was a nice range of fruits and vegetables grown a few miles away in Olinda. Using organic methods, their team of farmers produce a seasonal range of fresh and colorful dishes. On this day, leeks, carrots, beets, cabbage, taro and bananas, among others, were on offer.

With the sun rising behind us and the growing crowd of families and couples crowding around us, we returned to our car with a bag full of vegetables, stomachs full of snacks and samples, and a sense of community deeply. anchored in our hearts.

Upcountry Farmer’s Market is located in downtown Kulamalu, near Longs Drugs, just above Pukalani, next to the soccer field. To discover on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

For more gourmet stories, visit:

mauitime.com/food-drink

Photos courtesy of Lantana Hoke

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