Pearl City farmers market opens

Published On: Aug 11 2013 04:26:00 PM HST

It's not just another retail space. It's a way for consumers to support local agriculture and a way for farmers to get feedback from customers. There's a lot of locally-grown goodness, treats and fresh produce at the new Pearl City farmers market. Residents say they've waited a long time for a farmers market to open in the area.

"This area of Aiea, Pearl City, Waikele, Waipahu -- we want to provide our community with fresh products and fresh produce and for them to buy local," said Ron Umehira with Leeward Community College.

"There's a lot of people on this side that have to travel far to get to a farmers market, so I think it's a good thing," said Ewa Beach resident Lopaka Brown.  

Corn and pizza that's grilled on the spot are some of the popular picks at the farmers market. But, organizers say the markets aren't mainly about the customers and more about giving local farmers a chance to have direct relationships with those who buy their produce.

"They help farmers become more viable and make money. It also teaches farmers to look outside of the box in doing value-added products going forward and it's something we are trying to build on so that we have farmers in the future," said Dean Okimoto with Nalo Farms.

The farmers use customers' feedback to tweak prices and brands -- such as guacamole being sold going from $9 to $7 from people's requests. Farmers say it's crucial advice they wouldn't get anywhere else.

"It's very difficult for us as a family farm. Our cost of land, our cost of water, our cost of labor, fuel, boxes and packaging -- everything is going up," said Craig Bowden with Hawaiian Crown.

Leeward Community College has a culinary arts program, and organizers want to be able to showcase some of the students' work at future farmers markets. The farmers market will be open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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