The popular Kailua Town Farmers’ Market is moving to the Pali Lanes parking lot, starting this Sunday, after getting booted from the elementary school parking lot it had been using for years.
Market director Pamela Boyar said Art Machado, co-owner of Pali Lanes offered the use of the parking lot after she was told by the principal of Kailua Elementary that she would have to find a new venue. The market had been held for more than six and a half years at the school parking lot on Kuulei Road. The last market there was held on Sunday.
“I had very few choices,” said Boyar. “Then Pali Lanes said okay, until the end of December … I didn’t want to miss a beat. The farmers sell a lot of produce there and have planted for that market, and I didn’t want them to have no place to sell their produce.”
The Kailua Town Farmers’ Market features 52 vendors, including 12 farmers, according to Boyar. All will be moving to the new venue at Pali Lanes parking lot, which she said should be large enough to accommodate them, but featuring a very different layout.
However, the lease for the Pali Lanes parking lot will only be for four months, she said, and the market is still looking for a permanent location in Kailua.
Pali Lanes faces its own challenges, with a short-term lease from Alexander & Baldwin, which previously announced it would keep the building, and the bowling alley, but explore other options and uses for the property, as well as other operators.
“We value our role in the community and our community partnerships, but ultimately, Kailua Elementary is a school campus,” the state Department of Education said in a statement. “Hosting outside events goes beyond the primary educational mission of the Department of Education and our schools.”
The DOE said additionally, accommodating the farmers market on the campus had proved to be disruptive due to damage to the bathrooms, grass areas and the parking lot. The custodial staff was dealing with oil spills in the parking lot and had to clean chalk and paint markings on a weekly basis.
“We have always been responsible tenants wherever we go,” said Boyar. “for six and a half years, all we’ve done is grow. Were there some issues? Yes. Irreparable issues? No, never. Everything that did get damaged from overuse has been taken care of … My markets are set up for the community.”
When issues were brought to her attention, such as flour being left on the parking lot, Boyar said she got tarps for the vendors to address it.
The market grew over the years, according to Boyar, and brings in between 1,000 to 1,500 visitors. She described it as a community market focused on local growers and healthy lifestyles, with live music and free art activities for keiki.
“So many people called, and I was so touched by the love that the community shared with us,” said Boyar, speaking of their support for the market. “It was beautiful.”
Farmlovers Markets also runs farmer’s markets in Kakaako, at Pearlridge Center and at Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore.
The Kailua Town Farmer’s Market will be from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Pali Lanes parking lot.