Push to save Haleiwa Farmers' Market

HALEIWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Time is running out for the popular Haleiwa Farmers' Market. According to state officials, organizers must find a new venue by the end of the month due to liability concerns. Farmers out there on Sunday said they still hoped to find a way to save the shopping spot.

The Haleiwa Farmers' Market is a community gathering place each Sunday, but after three years, the market is being forced to move.

"That makes me very sad because the farmers' market is so critical to our survival. About half of our income comes from this farmers' market," said Kathy Maddux of Mohala Farms.

"The support has been incredible. We've had close to over 2,000 signatures now from the community saying, 'Please, don't take our food away.'" said Pamela Boyer, co-owner of the Haleiwa Farmers' Market.

According to the state, officials had been working with the organizers for years, allowing them to use the property rent free on a month-to-month agreement.

"We support the effort, but once it came to our attention, the Attorney General's office basically told us this is illegal and that we're liable, it was something that we had to stop," explained Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for the Department of Transportation.

The DOT issued a notice to vacate earlier this month. The farmers' market is held on a closed-off stretch of road that used to be part of Kamehameha Highway, but has been unused since the Joseph P. Leong Bypass opened.

"The land is still deemed a highway right of way and you can't do anything on a highway right of way now even though the fact that it's not actually near a highway anymore, the land is still considered that and so that puts the DOT and the state at risk," Meisenzahl said.

"Our family shops here every week and we really enjoy it. It feels good knowing the food we are eating is grown locally, it's supporting people that are right here in your area and also the food is healthier. It's better for the environment," said North Shore resident and singer Jack Johnson.

Initially, the state wanted the farmers market to stop immediately, but after meeting with organizers, the DOT decided to allow the market to remain open though the end of April.

"Everyone here has a talent. We've all been given a blessing of either growing fruits and vegetables, having plants, making soap, making bread, having jewelry," said vendor Kevin Easley.

"I come down here all the time. The market is awesome, a big part of the community here. I try to buy local, support the local farmers," said North Shore resident Greg Hunter.

Organizers hope there is a way to stay in the same spot or to extend their lease until a permanent location is found.

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