Sustainable Molokai Mobile Market: A Molokai Farmers Market on Wheels

One minute, it’s just a dirt lot. The next minute, a small refrigerated van and a vehicle pull up. A 10’x 10’ pop-up tent and handwashing stations, dozens of black and yellow totes and large coolers are set out. A truck pulls up and drops off a cooler as another truck full of coolers backs in — and the Mobile Molokai Farmers Market is open for business! 

At 1 pm, customers begin to arrive and scroll slowly through the line. Orders are pulled and handed through open windows or placed into truck beds. Along with, smiles and aloha exchanged whole-heartedly behind masked faces, at one of the only Molokai farmers markets.

The Sustainable Molokai Mobile Market, now in its 4th year of operation, didn’t begin as a drive-through. With the most minimal of facilities – a farm packing shed and a refrigerated van – it started as a way to create a targeted marketplace for produce grown here on Molokai. The goal of the market is to bring farming and eating communities together, to support the island’s economic and physical health, and to participate in a sustainable food system for Molokai. 

Just before the arrival of Covid-19, this Molokai farmers market was flourishing. Dedicated customers were racing to place their online orders the minute the market opened.  Through an innovative partnership with the Molokai Community Health Center, a Pop-Up Cafe was added. The cafe featured food made by local producers, as well as, regular offerings of Molokai-raised produce, shrimp, grass-fed beef, and other farm-made goods. Customers picked up their orders on the ocean-side patio under a banyan tree, undoubtedly one of the loveliest places on Molokai. 

With the arrival of Covid-19, the little market’s impressive flexibility and innovative capacity was discovered! Within a week, a drive-thru format, along with  sanitation and safety protocols were implemented with customers and producers.  Soon after that, the three grocery stores on the island all closed for quarantine and sanitation, and the market doubled in size overnight. Though it took some teamwork and heavy lifting, this Molokai farmers market served the increased volume and retained many new customers.

Thank you so much for staying open and for handling the whole affair with grace, humor and smart, practical precautions. Aloha, KB and Elvie”.

Loyal customers share notes of encouragement

This experience gave the entire community a deeper insight into the Mobile Market’s critical role in supporting Molokai’s food system. In addition to this farmers market’s unique ability to reinvent itself to meet the challenges presented by the current climate. Although the heights hit at the beginning of the pandemic have dropped, sales and customer counts continue to increase. The power of community collaboration in both establishing new delivery systems for food and in the restoration of Molokai Aina Momona is alive and well here.

The Details:
**This market offers two pick-up locations on Molokai

Molokai Community Health Center, 30 Oki Pl, Kaunakakai, HI 96748
Thursdays 1 – 2:30 pm
&
Maunaloa General Store, 200 Mauna Loa Hwy, Maunaloa, HI 96770
Fridays 12 – 1 pm

Vendor Contact, Sarah Miles, 831-251-9871, sarah@sustainablemolokai.org 
Learn more, https://molokai.localfoodmarketplace.com/index 

Want your farmers market highlighted on our blog? Email us at hawaiifarmersmarkets@gmail.com

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