DOT’s vacate order threatens a lifeline

In April, after three years of Sundays at the Haleiwa Farmers Market (HFM), the State Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a vacate order to owners Pamela Boyar and Annie Suite, who currently rent the space month-to-month.

The reason given by DOT for its sudden order was Section 264-101 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes: “Vending from highways is prohibited.” The market occupies a 2.5-acre portion of Kamehameha Highway that has been closed to traffic since the Joseph P. Leong Bypass was built in 1993. The land is zoned partially Urban and partially Ag2.

Vendors and patrons came together in May to hold a fundraiser with performers Jack Johnson, John Cruz and Paula Fuga in order to pay for legal representation and launch a petition to save HFM. Since then, nearly 3,000 signatures have been collected, and DOT has granted extensions. Meanwhile, Boyar and Suite have been visiting possible alternate sites, including Wailua Courthouse and Waimea Valley. “OHA [the owner of these sites] has just bent over backwards for us,” Boyar says.

Everyone’s first choice, of course, is that the market should stay where it is. The owners, who are in discussions with DOT, say they cannot comment further at this time. For now, check [haleiwafarmersmarket.com] in order to find out if it’s open, week to week. Meanwhile, here are the top 10 reasons we need HFM.

1) It pours nearly $7 million a year into the local economy. Studies show that for every dollar spent at a farmers market, there is $3 spent in the outlying area. With most traffic turning right as it leaves the market, those dollars are heading straight into Haleiwa Town.

2) At HFM, 2,300 residents buy locally grown produce weekly and get to know their food producers.

3)Festivals promoting local and seasonal products such as kalo, tomatoes, and cacao are hosted there.

4) The owners nurture local businesses and small farmers. . “We just came back from visiting new young farmers near Hygienic Store. They’re growing hydroponic strawberries and thinking about raising lambs,” Boyard says.

5) Recognized as one of the “World’s Coolest Farmers Markets” by The Daily Meal, HFM helps to build tourism.

6) HFM helps give visitors the opportunity to experience an abundance of aloha in a rural environment.

7) Keiki activities, such as arts and crafts with Rex the Surf Dog, some good old-fashioned cardio fun in the bouncy house and eating fresh, wholesome snacks, build healthy habits and positive connections.

8) By providing a healthy gathering place, HFM strengthens the entire North Shore community.

9) Land that is otherwise neglected and trashed is cared for and put to good use

10) It’s also used as networking space for non-profits that labor to better Hawaii.