The Kaka’ako Farmers Markets create a sense of community

By: Eunica Escalante

26 September 2019

  • The Kaka’ako Farmers Markets create a sense of community.
  • -
  • By Eunica Escalante
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Every Sunday, the empty lot on the corner of Ala Moana and Ward becomes a hub of local food, live music, and small businesses. This is the Kakaʻako Farmers Market. Since it opened in 2012, this farmer’s market has become a staple of the Kakaʻako neighborhood, bringing in crowds of attendees each week. 

“I like going to farmers markets primarily for selfish reasons: the food is tasty, the produce is really good, and you get a guarantee of quality,” says Harrison Patino, a farmers market regular.

And the same goes for the vendors themselves…

“It makes me feel incredible that I’m a part of it,” says Orlando. “Not even for bragging rights, just that I can’t believe I’m a part of this family, this positive cult of people. This society is great. I love this neighborhood.” 

And for small business owners, the farmer’s market has become a great testing ground for their businesses.

 

“A lot of the people here don’t own storefronts,” says James Orlando, owner of the Fatto A Mano. His food truck, specializing in brick-fired pizzas, has been at the Kakaʻako Farmers Market since December 2018. “They’re here to test out their vision, their products” he says of small businesses like his getting their start, “get feedback from it and go back to the drawing board and almost, like, master it until they go brick and mortar.

“This was always our favorite farmer’s markets before we even had a booth here,” says Kenna Reed, the social media coordinator for Masa Hawaiʻi. They supply hand-pressed authentic Mexican corn tortillas and have a staff of only four people. “We’re in the process of looking for a commercial kitchen so we can expand and start doing restaurant supply,” Reed says, “Even though we’re talking about what the business is going to look then, we still want to continue doing farmer’s markets just because it gives us that kind of community presence”

And it’s no accident that it’s become a hub for small businesses too. Founder Pam Boyar ensures that every vendor at the market is small, locally-owned, and all-natural. 

 

“It’s creating a farmer’s market that helps entrepreneurs incubate their businesses in a healthy, community environment,” Boyar says.

Though, some may attendees feel that the prices are too steep.

“I come to farmer’s markets as much as I can, but because I don’t really make a lot of money and the prices tend to be pricier,” says Patino. However, he does agree that the community of small business owner keeps him coming back each Sunday.

“Farmer’s markets are really interesting ways to connect with the community you live in,” he says. “You’re making a connection with local vendors, farm workers.

Image courtesy of FarmLovers Markets​

Image courtesy of FarmLovers Markets​

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