Richard Ha writes:
June and I participated in a sidewalk sale at KTA this past Saturday, and it was awesome. From 7 a.m. until noon, people did not stop coming. Most came for the summer fruit and yet even though we were not the focus of attention, we sold approximately 200 bunches of green onions, 15 boxes of cucumbers and a lot more.
We are big fans of KTA Superstores. KTA has been instrumental in easing this island’s transition from a sugar plantation economy to what it is today. The company has helped local farmers become economically stable by offering them the opportunity to sell their products under the Mountain Apple Brand label.
As for us, KTA has been willing to work with us on new items, new packaging and generally operating “outside of the box.” It is because of this help that we’ve been able to bring so many new products to market.
Some photos from the sidewalk sale:
Our heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms are generally varieties older than 50 years. When disease resistance, attractiveness and shelf life are primary considerations, heirlooms are not the most desirable. But chefs love them because heirlooms are noted for their good taste. We grow them because we like to eat them.
The Striped German is interesting. If you turn the tomato upside down, you see a red color radiating outward. That two-toned red and yellow color is what you see when the tomato is sliced. It's very pretty and interesting. This tomato has a taste combination that leans toward sweetness with just a hint of acidity. People who like sweetness in their tomatoes might like this one best.
The Purple Cherokee has a nice balance of sweetness to acid. The seeds don’t tend to fall out and the tomato has a consistent texture throughout. It is, well, “meaty.” The description “beefy” comes to mind. I wonder if that’s where the name beefsteak tomato comes from? I like it simple—chilled and sliced with a little Hawaiian salt and ground black pepper. Very nice! People who like a balanced acid to sweetness ratio might choose this as their favorite.
I alternate between these two as my favorite.
In the clamshell containers are our living lettuce. They are called “living lettuce” because the roots are on and they have the ability to breathe oxygen. One of the reasons we like this is because we can ship these using less cooling energy. Also, the lettuce lasts longer than conventionally grown lettuces.
Our green onions are grown hydroponically. Mainland green onions have the tops cut off, but we like to leave the tops on so we can show them off. It's hard to grow green onions that have green tips, but we do it. We also leave the tips on for food safety reasons—we feel that there is less chance for contamination if we don't cut off them off.
We have finally learned how to grow crispy, crunchy Japanese cucumbers. It’s interesting to talk to customers as they decide whether to buy or not. As they carry on a conversation, they go through the cucumbers, carefully checking out each one. I think people really touch and feel the cucumber for confirmation that it will be crunchy and crispy. So we know what our job is. It's more than just slapping on a pretty label.
Also, we don't like waxed produce. So we don't do it.
We are really proud of our green onions. But we feel that they are still too thin and leggy. In a couple of weeks we will have them where we want them—green from tip to bottom, a little bit shorter and more stout. They will be stronger looking and flawless, and all without harsh chemicals.