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The Maui Swap Meet
October 15, 2012 - Leah Sherman
There's really nothing being swapped — except money for goods or services. I'd call it an open market, but nobody asked me. Whatever you call it, the Maui Swap Meet is the largest on the island and is held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday on the University of Hawaii Maui College campus in Kahului. Admission is 50 cents.
Since I don't live in Central Maui, and am not really a morning (or even late morning/afternoon) person, I don't usually make it to the swap meet. But I have been there probably a half-dozen times. I'm always impressed by the offerings — baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, jewelry, soaps, hats, doll clothes and much more — and it seems to get bigger every time I go.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to come up with activities I could do for the new blog. I remembered that former Editor-in-Chief David Hoff (who retired in May) had mentioned that his wife's family had a produce stand at the swap meet. I sent him an email asking if his wife, Pam, would let me tag along. She very kindly said yes.
So, that's were I was Saturday.
At the booth (space 460), I found Pam and her brother, Jamie, their mother and an aunty and uncle. Jamie is a third-generation farmer and the owner of J. Shishido Farm in Omaopio. In addition to selling vegetables and fruit at the swap meet for almost 30 years, the farm provides produce to local food-service distributors and restaurants. While I was there, at least two restauranteurs stopped by to pick up their orders.
On Saturday, the best-sellers were broccoli and radishes. Also available were green onions, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, apple bananas, guavas and star fruit. I was told that lettuce is really popular when they have it to sell but, due to problems with axis deer, there was none the day I was there.
All the real work is done by Jamie at the farm on Fridays — harvesting, cleaning and bagging the produce. (He invited me to come up some time to help out with that.) So, by the time I arrived Saturday, everything was set up and all I had to do was remember the prices of the different items. You'd think that would be easy, but I've never been so good with numbers and had to keep asking how much something was. I was basically useless. Good thing for me that most of the morning was spent talking story. I learned which booths offered the best berries and onions. And it was interesting to see the booth regulars who stopped by to get their weekly bounty.
After leaving the family's booth, I made a loop around the grounds to check out all the offerings. But it was hot and I needed to be getting to my real job, so I didn't have time to see everything I wanted to. Good thing there will be another swap meet this week.
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Me and Pam Hoff with some of the produce for sale Saturday at the Shishido produce stand. LILA FUJIMOTO photo