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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 14, 2010

Farmers' Market at Waianae High: A huge success

Desiree D. Hikuroa
Reader Submitted

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hundreds crowded the Waianae Farmers' Market, now located at Waianae High School and open every Saturday from 8 am - 11:30 am.

Desiree D. Hikuroa

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Waianae Farmers' Market At Waianae High School: Huge Success

When the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and Waianae High School teamed up a few months ago, the two organizations and their staff never imagined it could be such a hit. Now, with more than 16 vendors and a variety of new products, the market appears to have taken off.

Hundreds of local residents and visitors arrived early on Saturday, May 1, to see the new variety of vendors and get their hands on the fresh produce, plants, and food products for sale.

"I was overwhelmed with the turnout and so happy that our community is enjoying the assortment of new products and the market's new location and look," said Desiree Hikuroa, Director of Communications at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and Market Manager of the Waianae Farmers' Market.

New vendors, such as Surfah Smoodeez, Asantae Java, Woody's Hot Dogs, and Ono Kettle Korn have joined the market. You can even find lobster tails, specialty coffee, and designer jewelry there. From small keiki to seniors, the Waianae Farmers' Market offers something for everyone.

"I just love the market, its new location, and all the variety now," said Georgia Campbell, Waianae resident and one of Waianae Farmers' Market's regular shoppers.

Kahumana Farms and Waianae High School have also joined the market. Kahumana Farms sells a variety of local, organic produce, including basil, arugula, carrots, and beets. Waianae High School sells local, organic produce, fresh ogo, and baked goods.

"I saw the Waianae Farmers' Market as a way to promote what the students are growing and making in class," said Lei Aken. Waianae High School's small farm was certified organic over a year ago. Today, the students are growing a bounty of produce, including organic mesclun lettuces, bananas, and a variety of leafy greens.

And you can't get much fresher. The greens and other goods travel less than two miles to get to the market! Kahumana Farms is located in Lualualei valley, and of course, the students' produce is just steps away from the market's new location.

"The bag of salad mix I bought from Waianae High School's booth was so fresh and green," Bryan Talisayan, Program Manager at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. "I bought two bags and my second bag is still looking fresh after a week," he added.

Unlike a lot of the produce found in grocery stores, the fruits and vegetables found at the farmers' market are picked just before the market, making the fruits and vegetables more nutritious than store-bought produce.

"The reason the Waianae Farmers' Market is so important to Waianae residents is because freshly picked produce contain vital nutrients that contain important antioxidants that protect against disease, such as cancer and heart disease," said Anne Thiessen, Registered Dietitian at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and Clinical Herbalist. These nutrients can be lost during the transport from overseas, resulting in less nutritious produce and a shorter shelf life.

Through a grant received by Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), REACH U.S., registered dietitians, such as Anne, provide cooking demonstrations and free recipes at the Waianae Farmers' Market once a month. Up for grabs at the grand re-opening on May 1st was "onolicious" Okinawan Sweet Potato Muffins!

With over 16 vendors, food sampling, keiki attractions, cultural activities, new products, and promotional items, the Waianae Farmers' Market is fast becoming a local "hot-spot" and a career opportunity for those in search of showing off their skills.

"The market is responding directly to our economic crisis by creating jobs and encouraging people to spend money in Wai`anae," said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, who is also a regular customer at the Waianae Farmers' Market. "And I see that our community is really enjoying the social environment that the market provides," she added.

The Waianae Farmers' Market's mission is to increase access and availability to fresher, local produce, while reducing food costs and providing a social and educational atmosphere where the community can discover where their food comes from.

The Waianae Farmers' Market is open every Saturday at the Waianae High School, from 8 a.m. 11:30 a.m. It is the only farmers' market on Oahu to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (S.N.A.P.) benefits (aka E.B.T. or food stamps). If you, or anyone you know, is interested in becoming a vendor, please call Desiree at 697-3516 or email waianaefarmersmarket@wcchc.com. You can also find event updates, free recipes, and vendor information on their Facebook page. Just look up "Waianae Farmers' Market" and select "like." Or, you can visit their website at www.waianaefarmersmarket.org.

The Waianae Farmers' Market sends out a big "Mahalo" to all of its sponsors: Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, Waianae High School, HECO, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, and CDC's REACH U.S.