I’m a new customer of Oahu’s Farm To Car program and I could not be happier about this enlargement of Hawaii’s farmer-support programs.
Especially during the pandemic when I’d like to reduce the number of times I have to mingle with untested shoppers at the local supermarkets and try to social distance at the cashier stations. This weekly Hawaii Farm Bureau curbside pickup venture is for me!
Here’s how it works. First, you go online to FarmToCar (https://farmtocarhawaii.org/) and register and include a credit card. Then at noon on Sundays, you go back to the FarmToCar website, sign in with your email, and go to the page with what’s available to order. Select your needs.
The choices will please most home cooks. There are almost 400 offerings of local produce and prepared products such as local honey. More than I had been finding at the drive-in and home delivery site called Farm Link Hawaii. Prices seem just a tad lower, too.
But there is one big caveat. When you order at Farm Link your order is automatically transmitted. But with Farm To Car you must jump through some button hoops to confirm and place your order.
With Farm Link Hawaii, I had been going to the Banàn store across from the UH campus to do my pickups. Farm To Car is different. You order Sunday noon+, and you don’t pick up until the next Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. That’s at the Blaisdell Center. You drive mauka on Ward Avenue and turn in (well sign marked) to the big lot between the Concert Hall and the Galleria. Give a worker your name and/or order number. You’ll be directed to station 1 or 2. That’s where a cheerful Saturday worker will bring out an orange, synthetic bag (or bags) loaded with your order and put it in your car’s interior or trunk.
The only human contact you have is when you open a window and call out your order name or number. Then you drive straight out onto King Street. What a snap! I loaded up on lettuces, potatoes, long eggplant, sea asparagus, apple bananas, tomatoes and honey.
You must order at least $25 worth and the Farm Bureau adds in $5 for the handling and the credit card company fee. So same as Farm Link’s $30 minimum.
When I went last week at 10:30 a.m., there was only one car ahead of me and it was at a different pickup station. There are 10,000 registered customers. Farmers in the program say they made about $200,000 in the first two months of it. On any Saturday, workers hand pack around 300 bags.
Funding has come from the City, Corteva AgriScience, and Alexander & Baldwin.
Try it. You’ll love it.