Friday, February 22, 2008

Wai`anae Farmer's Market Planned

Nina Wu, Farmers market to expand, Hon SB 2.19.08:

The Hawaii Farm Bureau's popular farmers' market is pushing westward to Waianae starting this spring, with an emphasis on fresh fish. The details are still being finalized, and the site still being secured, but the Farm Bureau has obtained a $29,000 federal grant to launch the farmers' market in the neighborhood. Two possible sites include the Waianae Boat Harbor and the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, which is working closely with the bureau to launch the project. Originally the bureau set its sights on launching in March, but that plan has been delayed. "It is going to happen for sure," said Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga, farmers' market manager. "The when is up in the air." Nakama-Mitsunaga said the state Department of Agriculture wanted to serve the Waianae area, particularly since many farms are already out there. "It would be a good way to try to help get that community eating healthier," said Dean Okimoto, president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau and owner of Nalo Farms. "We also want to help the fishermen out there."

Ma'o Farms -- a nonprofit that grows organic greens in the fertile Lualualei valley -- has already signed on. Since its inception in September of 2003, the farmer's market at Kapiolani Community College on Saturday mornings has exploded in popularity. A recent head count of shoppers at the KCC market was at about 5,000, compared to 3,000 in late 2006, said Okimoto. Vendors have also grown from about 30 to 45, with a long waiting list. The markets sponsored by the state Farm Bureau feature only Hawaii-grown produce and local products. Besides Saturdays at KCC, the markets take place Thursday evenings at the Kailua Town Center parking lot, and Sunday mornings at Mililani High School. The advantage for vendors is that they can take their produce from the fields directly to customers without a middleman.

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