Drought beginning to impact Oahu farmer's market

Drought beginning to impact Oahu farmer's market
Desiree Hikuroa
Desiree Hikuroa

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dried up fruits and flagging hopes are both growing at Kahumana Organic Farm in Waianae.

The drought is sucking the life out of the land.

"You can soak it for two or three hours and then come back the next day and it's bone dry again. It just leeches out and pulls it all away," farm manager Lou Clark said.

The farm grows fruits and vegetables for its cafe and two transitional shelters on the Leeward Coast. What's left is sold at the Waianae Farmers Market. But supplies are thinning.

Lemons and other fruits are drying and dying before they can be picked.

"If they don't get enough water the pulp, the fruit inside, is going to dry. You just don't get enough juice out of them," farm operator Robert Zuckerman said.

The mango harvest yielded one-third what the farm usually produces.

It's so bad the farm didn't open a booth at Saturday's Farmers Market for the first time in a long time.

Other vendors are also coming up short.

"That does create a scare for me because we do rely on our vendors and the customers rely on the vendors to supply them with fresh local produce," said Desiree Hiruoka, who runs the Farmers Market.

She expects other farmers markets and open markets to feel the drought's impact with fewer goods and higher prices.

Since Kahumana is relying on more county water instead of rain, it has to pass the increased cost to customers.

"We have to irrigate as much as possible and keep an eye on the trees," Zuckerman said.

"For the trees, they need to soak up moisture from a large area around them. There's no way we can irrigate this much dirt," Clark said.

Some of the fastest growing things on Kahumana Farm's 14 acres are cracks in the ground - open wounds from a drought that's causing all kinds of pain.

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