The Makeke o Maunalua Farmers’ Market has a new name, but its mission remains to serve as the weekly community social for East Oahu residents to support local farmers.
Pam Boyar and partner Annie Suite opened the green-inspired market—now called the Hawaii Kai Farmers’ Market—a month ago in the parking lot of Kaiser High School with vendors who live in the area. It has attracted hundreds each week.
"The community aspect is a big part of what separates us (from other markets)," said Boyar, noting some people had a difficult time finding the market and pronouncing its name.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, the market also features massage tables, live musical performances, cooking classes, arts and crafts in a Keiki Korner and a cafe area for patrons to dine. Boyar and Suite also own and operate the Haleiwa Farmers’ Market.
The Hawaii Kai market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in the main parking lot of the school.
"I love it," said Alexis Hamazaki, a Hawaii Kai resident of 17 years, who enjoyed the shade in the cafe with her 2 1/2 -year-old son, Caleb, last weekend. "You can sit around. There’s music, which makes it a more relaxed atmosphere."
For Hamazaki the weekly market is not only a source for fresh produce, but also a way to spend time with Caleb, who enjoys jumping in the inflatable castle in the Keiki Korner.
Boyar said having vendors who live in the area is essential to creating the community aspect that makes the market. Nearly half of the 31 business owners at the market are Hawaii Kai residents, and Boyar hopes to increase that number.
"Every time we come, we see people that we know," said Hamazaki. "It’s nice to be able to go somewhere and see familiar faces."
Ed Otsuji has been running his 4.5-acre Otsuji Farm behind Kaiser High School for 40 years and sells his produce to Safeway, Don Quijote and Whole Foods. He said he enjoys the market because not only does it give him another outlet to sell, but an opportunity to meet and interact with customers.
"You can feel it," he said. "A lot of the customers are supportive and appreciative."
From the sea asparagus from Kahuku to the fresh meats from Maui—everything at the market is made or grown in the islands.
"We’re very stringent about who we let in," said Boyar. "We’re really picky about the ingredients that (vendors) use."
Da Kine Kettle Corn, specializes in kettle corn made without butter, dairy or preservatives.
"Unless you have a corn allergy, you don’t have a reason not to like it," said worker Mark Brians, a 2008 graduate of Kaiser High School. His parents opened the business in mid-March to give their four sons an opportunity to gain work experience.
Also Hawaii Kai residents, Jenny and husband Tom Welch help sell OnoPops, a Hawaii gourmet Popsicle, for their sons Joe and Josh, who started the business three months ago.
"We don’t use anything that’s not local," said Jenny Welch. "It’s a little more expensive, but it’s less of a carbon footprint."
OnoPops uses organic locally grown fruits, sugar from Maui and milk from grass-fed cows of Waianae’s Naked Cow Dairy, which operates a booth just across of them.
To help the community, vendors donate $5 of their sales to Kaiser High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. It is one of four schools in the state that are certified with the nationally recognized college-prep program.