HI State Gov’t Shuts Down Haleiwa Farmers Market. Puts Up ‘No Trespassing’ Signs

On Friday at 1:30 PM, the office of Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie issued a press release saying the current site of Haleiwa Farmers Market would be shut down immediately and ‘No Trespassing’ signs were put up. This was just 36 hours before market day…well after farmers had picked and prepared their crops to be sold and vendors had prepared their goods for the weekend.

I got the news yesterday. I am in NJ right now taking a break from HI for the summer to check out different  urban and sustainable ag projects happening out here on the mainland. I was upset and disappointed to hear this news. We’ve been working with the state and bending over backwards for the past several months, trying to find a fair resolution. After literally jumping through hoops to meet their requirements for staying on the property, they ordered HFM to cease and desist. This order was met with tremendous criticism from the community and the state was forced to give us time to find a solution or find a new location.The governor had promised HFM that we would not miss a weekend, and the state has been gracious in offering extensions as we take the time to find a suitable new home. But on Friday, without any warning, they just pulled the plug.

There will be sign waving TODAY JUNE 17TH AT 8 AM. Your support is greatly appreciated.

PRESS RELEASE FROM HALEIWA FARMERS MARKET

Haleiwa Farmers’ Market operators were shocked to receive a call from the media today asking for a response to the press release sent by the Governor’s office shutting down the current site and the erection of “No Trespassing” signs on the property.  Attorneys for HFM have been waiting since Wednesday for a reply from the Attorney General’s office regarding the continued extensions to allow the parties reasonable time to find a new location. Having informed the State that vendors need reasonable notice to stay economically viable, HFM expected a further extension from the State because the State requested until Friday to have an opportunity to respond.  The abrupt termination of further negotiations to seek a suitable new site was unexpected and a blow to the Haleiwa community as a whole. “I cannot believe this is happening at 1:30 on Friday afternoon, when all our vendors have already picked and prepared their products for the Sunday market. The Governor assured us that we would not miss a market day, so this change of events is a big surprise to us.” says market manager Pamela Boyar.

The State suggested three sites for a new market location, including the Waialua Courthouse, Liliokalani Church and Waimea Valley. Each comes with unique obstacles. The Waialua Courthouse is a tiny parcel that requires Shoreline Management permitting, would require vendors to offload their vehicles from the Kamehameha Highway and drive off-site to park, has limited space only for 20 of the 60+ vendors and no parking for shoppers.  Representatives for the congregation of Liliokalani Church stated that the congregation would reject any commercial activity on the church grounds on Sunday mornings. While the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has been extremely gracious and helpful in their invitation to HFM for relocation to Waimea Valley, the 20+ acre parcel of Conservation and Shoreline Management land creates a difficult puzzle to put together. This option requires significant time and money, and possibly the engineering and erection of a footbridge. Though conversations have begun, the State knows well how long permitting takes. Neither City-owned parks land nor agriculturally-zoned lands are an option, as you cannot sell produce in these areas. Additionally, early in this process, Lorna Nono of Castle and Cooke reached out to see if the Waialua Sugar Mill was an acceptable location. Annie Suite says, “We were very grateful for the offer, but as we explained to Lorna, when we opened three years ago, we made a very specific decision regarding our HFM and the surrounding farmers’ markets, in that we did not want to create any situation which would negatively impact other farmers’ markets in the region. Moving to the Sugar Mill location would squash this vital market for the Haleiwa area. Although there is a significant amount of non-local produce there, we cannot do anything to hurt the few real farmers who participate.”

Earlier this week, HFM operators and attorneys met with Kalani Fronda, Senior Land Asset Manager  of Kamehameha Schools regarding additional potential sites. Says Pamela Boyar, “Kamehameha Schools agriculatural land and OHA’s Waimea Valley site are being carefully vetted and we feel certain that one will be our new home. We hope that can happen quickly, but as we all know, things can sometimes move slower than we desire.”

For two months, Haleiwa Farmers’ Market has requested multiple meetings with Governor Abercrombie to provide community input and accurate information regarding the operation, but to date there has been no offer to meet or the courtesy of a return phone call.

“We are stunned. Absolutely stunned. In this time of economic upheaval, it is difficult to believe that a simple road-block cannot be erected to overcome this legality and allow 60 legal small businesses to continue to flourish until a permanent location is found. We have been operating legally on this property for three years. We have offered to pay the State since day one. We have had no issues with safety. Our insurance policy (as well as those of our vendors) is extensive. We do not see the problem in staying here until we get settled in our new home,” says Suite. Boyar adds, “Where is the future of sustainable agriculture? These past weeks have seen the loss the prime Agricultural lands including Koa Ridge and Ho‘opili, the failure to pass the Sustainablity Bill, the closing of Hanalei Market… and now this? When are we going to stop talking about Local Food for Local Consumption, and take some action to preserve it?”

PRESS RELEASE FROM GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

Governor Abercrombie also provided an update regarding the Haleiwa Farmers Market which ended its run at an illegal site on June 10, 2012.  Since June 2011, various State agencies have worked on finding a solution for the Sunday Market, which occupied a strip of highway that is deemed illegal. 

For the past three years, the Market has operated at a triangular area at the junction of Kamehameha Highway and Joseph P. Leong Highway, known as the Haleiwa bypass road. The triangular area is part of a parcel of land which includes the entire highway, and is right next to the existing traffic on the bypass road. Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 264-101 states “Vending from highways prohibited” and notes that “highway” means “the entire width, including the berm or shoulder of a public highway.”

Over the last few months, several locations have been suggested for the Market by the State and various community members. These options have included the Waialua Sugar Mill, city parks, and local schools. These suggestions were not accepted.  

“We exhausted every possibility to find a new location and I want to extend my appreciation to the landowners who came forward to help the State offer a solution for a new location. Unfortunately the locations offered were unsatisfactory for the organizers of the Haleiwa Farmers Market. We provided three extensions to the organizers in hopes of finding a compromise and are disappointed that the optional locations were not accepted.”

To prevent future activity from taking place at that the prohibited location, the State has erected “No Trespassing” signs.

Fortunately, there are two farmers markets that take place on Saturdays in the community at Waialua and Sunset on Saturdays.  Both events support the sale and promotion of locally grown food.  

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