Early on a Saturday morning, the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Farmers' Market in Honolulu, Hawaii, bustles as patrons compete to purchase 100% Kona Coffee, locally made honey, and Hawaiian-grown produce and flowers. This market is only one of several Saturday markets on Oahu. Honolulu's urbanites flock to farmers' markets in scores and often patronize weekday markets in addition to weekend markets. This vibrant farmers' market scene might ensure the preservation of the island's remaining farmland.
Papaya for Sale at the KKC Market!
Farmers' markets establish a bond between Oahu's city-dwellers and farmers, who are otherwise often at odds over prospective real estate developments. When city-dwellers patronize markets, they engage in conversations with farm owners, managers, and employees, and they learn about the farms' practices. Patrons value this information and rapport, and often frequent the same farms' stands from week to week, and thereby become stakeholders in the island's remaining farms.
Patrons Engage Local Farmers
Naked Cow Dairy, a small-scale, 20-cow dairy located in Waianae, is the only producer of butter, cheese, and cream cheese on the island. Naked Cow sells its products at the KCC, Ala Moana, Waianae, Blaisdell, and Mililani markets. The exorbitant cost of land could force a small-scale farm like Naked Cow to close. If Honolulu's urban-dwellers hope to continue to frequent thriving, sustainable markets offering locally grown and produced foodstuffs, they must advocate for the protection, and perhaps expansion, of land that is zoned for agricultural use.
Hopefully, Honolulu's citizens' love of farmers’ markets will reverse the preceding twenty years' trends:
- In 1990, Honolulu County's population was 836,231, and of those employed and 16 years of age or older, 1.5 percent worked in the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, and Mining industries;
- According to the 2010 Census, Honolulu's population increased to 953,207, but of those employed and 16 years of age or older, only 0.7 percent worked in the aforementioned industries;
- North Shore resort and residential construction has markedly increased the cost of land near the shore; the North Shore is a famed spot for surfing that boasts some of Oahu's most fertile land.
Are farmers' markets propelling the preservation of farmland where you live? Comment below or on Twitter!
Credits: Photographs by Sunny Menozzi. Data linked to sources.