Every Thursday evening from 5 to 7:30 p.m., hundreds of people flock to the Kailua Farmers’ Market – a treasure trove of food and fresh produce available to tourists and locals alike. The 48 vendors have everything from different varieties of local plants and produce to homemade nut candies.
The mission of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation — sponsors of the event — is to provide a voice for agriculture, support farmers’ markets on the island, encourage others to get involved and provide information for economic and educational opportunities in the agriculture community.
Janice Bruggemeier, manager of the Kailua Farmers’ Market, emphasized, “Everything is grown locally; we really support local communities and farmers.”
Mary Liles, the Hawaii’s Best Ever Brittle vendor, added, “The market provides good, healthy local ingredients.”
Each vendor who sells products has to have a certain percentage of local elements. For example, Liles uses almonds and pecans from California, but then adds butter and sugar from Hawai‘i to make the candy-covered nuts.
As a vendor, Liles mentioned that one of the things she enjoys about the market is seeing familiar faces of people who return. She said she also enjoys working with the other vendors.
When local people buy local food, Liles added, “the dollars come back to us.”
The Kailua Farmers’ Market has become a popular weekly community event. People bring their families to enjoy the entertainment, socialize and eat good food.
One customer said, “It was an awesome experience because not only is it suitable for adults, but children too. It felt like a celebration or concert.”
A main attraction at the market is the Waimanalo Country Farms’ fresh lemonade sold in Mason jars.
“It was the most amazing thing I ever tasted in my life,” said WCC student Sky Bruno. You can taste the difference in the ’Nalo-made lemons, and they offer a variety of flavors.”
Anyone interested in becoming a vendor at any of the farmers’ markets on O‘ahu or learning more about the organization can visit the hfbf.com website. Membership dues go toward lobbying to help farmers gain more land, sell their products, and give them a voice in local issues.
By Madison Cole, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter