Pink, spiky dragon fruit, rows of lilikoi, mango and guava, fresh-baked bread, mouth-watering local salts and seasonings…
You can find all this and more at the Farmers Market at Windward Mall by ‘Nalo Farms.
If you’re familiar with the market, you already know it’s available every Wednesday from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Now shoppers can also find the Farmers Market every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Macy’s wing of the mall.
“The new Sunday market was added to allow the community more access to some of Hawaiʻi’s finest produce and products,” said Wendy Gady, coordinator of the market.
Natasha Peato of Waipahu visited the market on its second Sunday.
“I couldn’t believe how much they had to offer and how welcoming the vendors were. Most offered to share samples of their products and even let my kids try some new things too.”
Peato liked the Sunday market because she could bring her family out since Wednesday was a school night.
Gady said the markets have become the neighborhood gathering place.
“Families meet up here and have a chance to reconnect with each other. We also see a lot more people trying to buy local foods,” said Gady.
She mentioned that market-goers say they find things at the market they haven’t eaten or seen since they were a kid, like some of the fruits and preserves.
Nearly 4,000 people pass through the market on Wednesdays and the hope is that the Sunday market will gain its own popularity.
The grand opening held Sept. 2 featured farmer-chef demos at center stage, using products from the market to demonstrate how to create a healthy, fresh meal from items right in the market and the mall. A benefit of the indoor market is the products stay cool in the air conditioning and the area is well lit.
With a big name like ‘Nalo Farms attached to the operation, it keeps the market true to its roots, said Gady.
“‘Nalo Farms prides itself on quality on a chef’s level, and there are a number of local chefs who shop the market every Wednesday,” she said.
For the farmers, it is a chance for them to sell the fruits of their labor. When a farmer resells to a wholesaler, they make as little as 20 cents on a dollar.
When they sell their own products, they can keep that additional 80 cents, and for many of the families who farm that will make a big difference.
The market also provides a chance for the farmers to interact with each other and the customers, with the ability to share ideas for new crops and products.
Gady said two plans in the works for the market are the Senior Voucher Program and EBT program. The Senior Voucher Program issues certificates to the elderly, especially those in senior housing, and allows them to redeem the vouchers for items at any of the farmers markets who participate in the program.
When a vendor receives a voucher, they give no change back to the customer, then will mail in the collected vouchers and are issued a check from the program administrator.
The EBT program is Hawaii’s Electronic Benefit Transfer card. It would allow those who receive food benefits to use their card to purchase fresh produce and food-producing plants at the farmers market. Other local markets have adopted these programs after receiving grants, and Gady hopes to have these programs in place by next year.
To find out more about upcoming events and new products, go to www.windwardmall.com.
by Jaimee-Linn Shaw
Ka ‘Ohana Writer