A “MOVEMENT” = CONNECTION
For the past few months, the Light of My Life and I have been showing up at the early Saturday-morning Upcountry Farmer’s Market fairly frequently.
It has been some years since either of us visited the market.
For us, the market is a delightful surprise and has become a treasured part of our weekend routine.
Every time we go there are old friends who we haven’t seen for a long time. We touch base with other friends. We make new ones as well.
The market has also been a personally poignant reminder that a “movement” is really just people building community and connection and developing ways to share the resources that surround us.
WE SERVE COMMUNITY TO BUILD COMMUNITY
That’s the motto of this home-grown market that is one of the longest running gathering places for farmers, hunter-gatherers, food artisans and creative business folks on Maui — an island where dedicated foodies spend a lot of their time seeking out more variety, better quality, and lovely new taste sensations.
The concept that the people living in the islands need to grow more of our own food, out of which the market and others like it has grown, is a recurring theme for those of us who live here.
“Food security” – the assurance that a person will be able to get food to sustain the people he or she cares about from the place where they live — is a very real concern when the various estimates by all kinds of experts say that 85 to 90 percent of all of the food we consume here is shipped or flown in from other places.
The whole system that is now in place is a wonder to behold.
Consider this: The islands of Hawaii are physically located way-the-hell-and-gone in a very big ocean.
The closest landmass to the Hawaii is a point on the southernmost tip of an unnamed peninsula in Alaska overlooking Ikatan Bay…a whopping 2,259.28 miles from Tunnels Beach on Kauai.
(The second-closest is near Flumeville, California, also more than two thousand miles away from Hakalau on the Big Island.)
And, yet, if you wander through any food store on any island – even the smallest ones – you will find a truly incredible array of food from every part of the planet.
The whole thing is also a precariously balanced system.
It is not hard to imagine worst-case scenarios where a series of disastrous natural events might stop the flow of ships and aircraft hauling in all that food.
People do like to point out that folks got along quite well in the old days without all that fancy stuff.
The native peoples grew and harvested enough food to get by and live their lives well before the coming of all those tall ships and the new thoughts that flowed in.
Of course, the native systems of land management and ownership were very different than our current ones.
The foods that were available might have been plentiful, but they were limited to a few staple crops and rounded out by some animals that were imported to the islands by early Polynesian settlers as well as the abundance of fish and bird-life back then.
Our ancestors developed an impressive array of survival skills that most modern-day folks replaced with other skills that are better adapted to all of the modern-day systems of “conveniences” we now enjoy.
IT TAKES A TRIBE TO GROW A CHILD AND KEEP ON FEEDING IT
It occurred to me that the survivalist tactics of the self-reliance extremists with apocalyptic visions who live on continents may not be particularly pertinent to people who are stuck on an island.
Yes, you can learn many of the skills you need to optimize the resources available to you, but one person or even one family or smallish group has a limited amount of knowledge and energy to make a life of abundance all by themselves.
Then, of course, there’s the problem of having to deal with the hungry neighbors. Yipes!
One of the most important considerations the ones who are all “me-for-myself-and-mine” is the fact that without planes or ships when you pack up and leave, you won’t get very far on a relatively small island.
(Maybe that’s why Oceanic ancestors did a lot of sailing around.)
Setting up a survivalist camp that’s off the grid in the bushes is not a real option for many of the people on an island.
(For one thing, it does cost a lot of money and requires all kinds of technological knowledge and skills to set up something that is actually sustainable in the long run.)
Bumbling along and working as a community of people of good will to help each other survive on a day-to-day basis seems a more viable option to more moderate sorts.
With this in mind, many people on all of the islands have banded together to work on trying to produce more of our own food and on developing networks that will be able to sustain us if things go very bad.
This video, “Farmer’s Perspective” was published in 2016 by GoFarm Hawaii, a University of Hawaii program. It contains a number of different viewpoints from several farmers who’ve been involved with the program and is an interesting look at the agricultural efforts and mindsets of small, diversified farmers in the islands.
It’s been happening for a long time now.
LOCAVORES “BUY LOCAL”
The “Buy Local,It Matters” campaign, a joint project of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, encourages residents of Hawaii to purchase local produce.
(Click on the campaign name for more information about it. It is the latest in a long line of government efforts to address the problem.)
The button below takes you to an open data portal put up by the State of Hawaii Ag guys that presents some solid measurements and facts about food production in Hawaii and more information about the effort to keep on expanding our capacity to grow our own food.
The goal of all of this measuring effort that started in 1997 is to double local food production.
As consumers, our choice to “buy local” even when the imported stuff in the very next bin or shelf at a supermarket is quite a bit less expensive (in terms of money) is definitely a way to help our neighbors and our own selves work towards a more sustainable life, it seems to me.
BACK TO THE MARKET
Mat and I remember when the Upcountry Farmers Market was held at Makawao’s St. Joseph’s Church. (Has it really been more than 40 years ago?)
Some young “back-to-the-land” advocates and tree-huggers (many of them friends of ours) started the thing.
It grew as backyard gardeners, small local farmers, hunter-gatherers and fishing folks as well as crafters and artisans joined in, sharing the food they grew and the products they created from island offerings with their neighbors in trade for other things they needed or for some extra side-money.
The Upcountry Farmers Market migrated to the Eddie Tam Community Center in Makawao after it got too big for the church space.
The market vendors and their aficionados continued to meet there for 31 years, braving weather and fickle or clueless customers and the confusing convolutions of red-tape and other bureaucratic busy-ness to keep on doing what they did.
By the time the rules and regs for the use of the popular and much-used public facility became too cumbersome and restrictive for the market vendors, a new place opened up down the road in Pukalani.
The market moved once again in 2010 to an out-of-the-way part of the parking lot at the still-under-construction Kula Malu town center.
It has grown from a core group of a dozen or so die-hard folks who fervently believe in producing and providing food and other locally made products that are, as they say, “thousands of miles fresher” to an ever-evolving and growing group of more than fifty-plus regular vendors.
They set up their tables and tents at the market every weekend to sell their fresh produce, plants and flowers, their “grinds,” and other wares to hundreds of devoted fans and other folks.
Smiles and hugs are standard greetings there. Talking story is a favored pastime as well.
THE MARKET AS A SLICE OF HISTORY
Checking out what the market offers has been an eye-opener for me.
It got me thinking that, for real, a heck of a lot of the foods we consider “native” or “Hawaiian” or “local” fare were imported to the islands at some point in history.
Almost all of our foodstuffs are pretty much “foreign” species. Many of them might even be considered “invasive.”
Think about it.
When Polynesians first touched ground on the islands, the only indigenous edible plants were some ferns, ‘ohelo berries, and a panoply of seaweed.
Maybe some palm seeds and nuts floated in on the tides and took root, but the chances were pretty slim.
The animal life on the island back then included assorted birds (now mostly extinct) and bugs, the fish and sea life in the ocean surrounding the islands, and some small critters in the streams.
Remember that these islands are located thousands of miles away from anyplace else.
That’s a long way to go when you’re clinging to a piece of driftwood. Few plants and probably no land animals from the continents made it here on their own.
Polynesian voyagers brought kalo (taro), niu (coconut), ʻulu (breadfruit), ʻuala (sweet potato), maiʻa (banana) and ko (sugarcane) on their canoes, as well as chickens, pigs and dogs for meat.
Starting in the 18th century, European explorers dropped off cattle and goats.
Later American missionaries and other plant dudes and entrepreneurs imported macadamia nuts, coffee, and a wide variety of tropical fruits including the pineapple that has come to symbolize the idea of “Hawaii.”
Sheep showed up. So did assorted game birds and beasts suitable for fans of the hunt.
When the sugar and pineapple industries arose in the late 19th century, they precipitated waves of immigrants from China, Japan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Korea, and the Philippines, as well as various other parts of the Americas, Europe and Asia and the rest of Oceania to work in the fields and to participate in the diverse and constantly evolving island lifestyle.
Every one of them brought foods from home.
They shared their food with their neighbors who learned to like all kinds of ways of cooking and learned to grow a lot of different kinds of plants and animals.
Some things thrived. Others – like apples and other foods that grow well in temperate places — did not.
A lot of that food shows up in many of the farmers’ markets around the state.
The sense of abundance gets mind-boggling as you walk around.
What I’m noticing about being a frequent shopper at the farmers market is that it adds a whole other dimension to the way we cook and the way we think about food.
- I’m noticing that the foodstuffs and value-added products we’ve discovered during our forays into the market can determine what we are going to be cooking and eating for our next few meals.
- Rather than just automatically grabbing this or that vegetable, fruit or meat and preparing the same old stuff we always make, we are reaching for new-to-us things to try.
- We are beginning to combine our finds in different ways than usual. We are learning to substitute new-to-us cousins of foods we already know in old familiar recipes to make a whole other taste sensation.
- Since we’re never sure what is available at the market on any given day, it’s likely that we will become even more ready to remain receptive to the possibilities the market’s offerings present and allow ourselves to be guided by what we choose to get.
- The produce and products we like at the market are all grown or made by the people who are selling them, so we have a chance to ask the sellers about where and how the plants are grown and how a thing is made.
- It’s a chance to find out where the food we are eating comes from and what it takes to produce and process the ingredients we’re planning to use.
- I notice that I am likely to get tips about how to turn the fruits and vegetables that are new to me into meals I can enjoy. (Very often, passersby weigh in with advice as well.)
The whole thing has been a fun-filled, enlivening learning experience.
I expect that as we become more aware of the foods that are commonly available at a certain time of the year, we’ll be able to start planning meals.
Recipes I’ve never tried may become new favorites.
Different styles of cooking that I’ve been meaning to explore may become more do-able and I may even learn some new skills.
Because the mix of vendors changes from week to week, there will always be that element of surprise.
A good thing….
Here’s a poem:
KILLING WINDS GO LEFT
The killing winds turned left.
After a handful of days
Of semi-hysterical predictions
Of impending calamity,
Of urgings to beware, prepare, take care,
After hours and days of making up
Contingency plans that are fading
As the sun comes out from
Behind the clouds,
After watching the wake of
The massive storm devour
The hapless ones who ran out of luck
Stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time,
After watching the valiant ones and the dutiful
Trying so hard to help mitigate
The woes of the disasters
Trailing after the now-gone Chaos-Beast,
The only feeling left in this aftermath
Is a gratitude that seems impossibly inadequate.
We go on, all of us, as we sink back into
The gentleness of everyday
Where breezes and mists are not
Harbingers of awful destruction and death
And petty annoyances are the norm.
by Netta Kanoho
Header Photo credit: “Community of Petals” by Rosa Say via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
SOME OTHER POSTS TO CONSIDER:
(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)
Thanks for your visit. I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.
36 thoughts on “A “MOVEMENT” = CONNECTION”
People are more involved in their busy lives and we don’t tend to see these type of things world. I loved this article, it was interesting, I learned a lot about Hawaii productions and the markets of course. Thank you so much for sharing A MOVEMENT = CONNECTION with all of us.
Thanks for the visit, Sujandar and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it.
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What a great article and poem. This is why I love my travels through the World Wide Web. To find off the grid websites like this make my day. The knowledge you have provided for myself and so many others is something no one can take away from me.
I appreciate coming to a site where someone isnt trying to sell me something.
Thank you for taking the time to put together this great article for all your readers
Dale, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
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When I first read the title “A Movement = Connection” I was not sure what to expect. As I read through the article, it became abundantly clear to me, however. You moved eloquently from the beginnings to accurately depicting just how a thriving and vibrant community can be formed around an idea (movement).
I was taken back to my own experiences in Germany, where such movements have also taken hold over the past 30 years or so. The whole and natural food movements have taken on a life of its own, and the farms, the butchers, the markets, and the people all work together to become more than the parts/elements.
You capture that experience in your description of the markets in Hawaii, and although I have not been there, I felt as if I was there! Because of my own experiences, I felt this even more so. It can be a really great time and so many ideas pop up, plus the food is better for you.
The poem at the end of your article was the icing on the cake for me. It provided a lot of “food for thought” (no pun intended, it just fits!). Great read and the images are lovely too. Thanks for the work putting this together. It felt more like a short story!
Thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Dave. It certainly adds one more aspect to the thing — the idea that this “food security” thing and building community with it is a worldwide phenomenon. I do appreciate your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed my own efforts.
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You have a wonderful blog, mahalo for pointing me here via Flickr when acknowledging my photos; I’m so pleased that they’ve helped you illustrate this post, for your writing warms my heart.
I live on the Big Island, yet I’ve visited that Upcountry Market whenever a Saturday finds me on Maui, and your post brought back several memories for me—indeed, it’s a great place to talk story with folks.
We ho’ohana kākou,
Rosa, I do thank you again for allowing the use of your delightful images. I am very pleased you like the post. Ho’ohana kākou, indeed!
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Loved seeing the rich bounty of Hawaii food and flowers.
Your poem was beautiful – really captured our experience in Hawaii, getting ready for our storms, recovering afterwards and where ‘petty annoyances are the norm’, thankfully!
Mahalo and Aloha, Sue Salisbury.
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I take it you were here for the Hurricane Lane bypass. THAT was a something, wasn’t it?
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Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful article. I really liked your article and poem, especially I liked the title in your article”A Movement = Connection”.
People are progressively associated with their bustling lives and we don’t will, in general, observe these sorts of things in our world.
I adored this article, it was fascinating. I took in a lot about Hawaii preparations and the business sectors obviously. Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful and helpful article.
Sabrinamou, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
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I’m glad I found your website today, I’m interested to know more about how to live better on this planet and your article is a great read to help many to get more interested to buy local, and why not, to start producing more local food.
As I live in Canada, I must say this movement is growing bigger every year as more people is interested to help local growers as they buy from them at local farmers market. The weather doesn’t help here to keep growing the family garden to produce more food for our families during the long and cold winter.
We all wait for better weather to come soon to start working on our family gardens and to produce some veggies for each family.
It’s always great for me to get to know more about how people live and how people get more interested to help others to create a better world for everyone,
I loved your article, I learned more about Hawaii and how you live there, your pictures are beautiful and sharing them on your website you’re sharing part of your life. Thank you for helping the world to be a better place.
Alejandra, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad the post resonated with you.
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Interesting perspective as always, Netta. It didn’t occur to me at first, that you were an advocate of local food production. Well I know this to be a good thing, maybe highly beneficial even.
The government of my country sometime ago decided it was time to cut out the foreign foods importation. A good number of the citizenry knew it was a long game. The benefits were not obvious at the time. But the ones who benefited from the importation fought tooth and nail against it. It was supposed to be a way to empower local food production, as well as diversify an economy that was heavily dependent on crude.
This has been really interesting.Thanks for sharing
Rhain, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. Whenever there is any kind of change, the ones who benefitted from previous government or corporate policies always fight against it, it seems to me…even when the changes are necessary for long-term survival.
Some fights just have to be fought anyhow and our own small choices can help. We are all in this thing together, it seems to me, and need to take care of each other as we can.
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Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful article.
In this article, you have provided valuable information that will benefit a lot of people. What great articles and poems. This is why I love my travels through the World Wide Web. This is how I turn to grid websites, the knowledge you provide for me and many others is something that no one can take away from me.
Your poem was beautiful, wonderful- it was truly our experience in Hawaii, we got ready for the storm, we would recover later and where ‘little annoyance is the norm. I thank you again for writing such a beautiful poem.
Md Millat, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I am glad you enjoyed the post.
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I think local farmers and local produce should be supported and preferred everywhere. I feel the farmers in my country are not supported enough either.
It is natural to consume what grows in the particular area and not to import all sorts from the other side of the world. Local produce in Hawaii seems to offer so much and it should be supported.
Your poems are beautiful, I always enjoy reading them.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Lenka. I do appreciate it.
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The history of survival and the availability of food on the islands of Hawaii is eye opening… it is good to learn about the history of cultures other than my own.
I didn’t realize that you couldn’t successfully grow foods in Hawaii that grow in more temperate climates like my own here in Canada.
I like your content, and look forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing, ~ Elaine
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
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I had no idea about food security but it makes complete sense when 85 to 90 percent of food comes from other places. This brings up the type of awareness that can help people if times become tough.
To me Hawaii sounds like a great place to grow crops due to the abundance of consistent weather, and from your information and photos here I see that there is an abundance of excellent crops.
I think it’s outstanding that people grow and buy local, and you have provided a great case for why it becomes important particularly in Hawaii. It’s this type of awareness that serves to help people and really can make a difference, and who knows, maybe even alter the course of history. Great post!
Pentrental, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. The locavore movement is a step in the right direction, I think.
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I could have been walking alongside you, taking in all that was on offer, such was the description you gave. This was complimented perfectly with the outstanding pictures.
Food has never looked so appetizing, coming out from the page as it did in your post. I am in complete agreement, those avocado’s were huge. Here, they are less so and due to price, more of a luxury. (It’s a shame as I used to love them sliced in a salad.)
I have tried to think of a comparison to liken to your market, though as you said, it is more than that. I came up wanting.
Once a month, I think, the high street is given over to ‘Local produce’ vendors but alas ours has gone in a different direction. It seems to be filled with ‘niche’ products that are most often overpriced.
This is justified, wrongly in my opinion, because it has been grown locally. It seems intended for those who need to speak louder than necessary when mentioning to friends where they get their jam, wearing it like a badge of honour to show how noble they are to have supported the community.
‘We serve community to build community’ are words that would ring hollow here I’m afraid. Without sounding too cynical, communities here tend to exist on social media and rarely do you find them elsewhere.
When you do, they are a joy to behold because they are genuine and carry the proud sentiments that working together, for each other, can bring.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story, Twack. I hear what you say about the commercialization of even the community-building efforts like farmers’ markets, crafts fairs, artisan and performance celebrations and various annual community events.
We see the same thing over and over as assorted home-grown and idealistically built venues get taken over by people who are, perhaps, hungrier than the original builders of those community-building efforts. Sometimes the thing turns into a greedy-guts fest. Sometimes the things atrophy and die when fake wins over real.
Still, even the more blatant commercially oriented things are a plus, I am thinking. When people gather together in celebration or for business, life connections happen…and, really, that is the most important thing in all of this.
We are still all in this together. We can still choose to go for the connect. We can still stand together in all our humanness and grin and laugh. That counts too, I think.
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Thank you for your post, which reminds me the local farmer market where I live. I love the fresh products in the market and visiting it is my weekend routine.
It is a great place to meet old friends and create new friends. I agree with you that the local farm market serves community and build a strong community. The farm market provides a wonderful place for farmers, hunters, and business owners to meet and exchange ideas and products.
I can see this is especially true that people living in the islands need to grow more of our own food in order to provide food security for the residents.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Anthony. I’m glad this post resonated with you.
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I grew up on a small farm in Ohio, so I have some understanding of what it takes to raise fresh foods and animals to sustain food supplies. I don’t know much about Hawaii, so I was absolutely entranced by everything you shared here. I never thought about what it would be like trying to source food on an island if outside supplies were cut off. I’m so glad there are people like you preparing for it.
I share your love of farmer’s markets as well, but I never thought of them from the perspective of communities coming together and sharing resources, though that is exactly what it is. I will never think of it the same when I visit my local farmer’s market. I live in North Carolina now, and I hear a lot of grumbling from people saying a lot of the produce in our farmer’s market isn’t actually grown here. Kind of disappointing if that is true!
The poem at the end of this post is so relevant right now. Thanks for sharing.
Theresa, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I am so pleased you enjoyed the post and that it got you to look again at the value of local farmer’s markets.
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Becoming more sustainable and regenerative is going to be the challenge of modern society. I’ve spent some time living in permaculture ecovillages and intentional communities and have seen the magic that they can tap into. It’s also difficult sometimes to deal with the conflicts that come up in a democratic way. But the work you’re doing is important.
Relearning how to live in a community and have real relationships with the people and places you are from is so critical to not only our survival, but our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The lack of connection to yourself, others, and nature have been creating an epidemic of loneliness today causing so many of our huge modern-day problems.
I can see that Hawaii and other islands are especially suspectible to disaster if there is no plan or thought to self-sustainability in place. I am encouraged by the new awareness that seems to be springing up about these issues. Thank you for bringing more of that awareness in by sharing this article.
Nicole, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do agree that relearning how to make community in this disjointed time is one of the largest of our problems. We do need to keep working on it.
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We go to the local farmer’s market every Saturday to get our supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. It has become a bit of an institution and we love supporting the local producers, as well as getting zero mile, organically produced products. As well as refilling our honey jar and olive oil bottle, we can get nut butters, cashew cheese and a raft of other delicacies and treats.
It is so important to support your local community and I loved learning more about the community and market that you frequent.
As you can probably tell, I, too, am a fan of local farmer’s markets. We’ve got a number of them on the island, each one with their own vibe and flavor. It’s all good….
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What a truly fascinating article this is.
It’s such a different way of life that I lead. I live in a big city and sometimes we have farmers markets in different areas which are going along to. Occasionally, I might bump into a friend or someone I used to know but it’s definitely not a given.
I was fascinated to discover that Maui is so far from any other landmass and that Alaska is the nearest, albeit a couple thousand miles away!
I love your pictures of the fruit and plants that you see. Although I buy fresh fruit and vegetables it makes me realise from how small a selection I am choosing when you consider all that is available. So many of the more unusual products reach us in tins.
You’re so right about the need to support each other. We live in such a connected world, so we really can’t manage on our own anymore and it isn’t any fun to try anyway.
And what a beautiful poem at the end, picking up some of the themes that you’d been talking about. You certainly have a gift. Thank you for sharing it with us.
All the best,
Julia, I do love the thoughts you’ve shared on this post. I especially agree with: “We live in such a connected world, so we really can’t manage on our own anymore and it isn’t any fun to try anyway.” Truth, that!
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