HANALEI — The Hanalei Farmers Market will resume business on Saturday, with management and vendors saying they are pleased with the county’s assistance in a quick resolution of a legal threat.
“I think the closing of that market would have been detrimental to the community,” said Haunani Pacheco, co-owner of Hawaiian Paradise Flowers.
“People depend on it for their livelihood and closing it would definitely have an effect. I am so glad we were able to resolve the situation.”
Hale Halawai Ohana O Hanalei Board President Wicki Van De Veer, the nonprofit organization that runs the market, said the closure on June 2 was to address complaints about parking problems and ensure the market was not in violation of special use permits.
“The County of Kaua‘i has determined that the use of the subject permits by Hale Halawai to have a weekly farmers’ market is in conformance with the permits and their corresponding conditions of approval,” Van De Veer said. “Consequently, the Hanalei Farmers Market will re-open on June 16, and will welcome back farmers, food vendors and artisans, all of whom will follow Kaua‘i made guidelines.”
The uncertainty about compliance with Special Management Area permits and county use and zoning violations is what forced the sudden closure.
She said the board understands that vendors depend on the market but the threat of litigation placed the center in a vulnerable position.
“As a small nonprofit it seemed in our best interest to clarify whether we were or not,” she said.
“As it turned out it we were operating within the use permit, and that is why it was quickly resolved without amendments or substantive changes.”
The Hale Halawai Ohana O Hanalei board announced on Facebook that there will be a vendors meeting Thursday evening.
The discussion will be to explore alternatives now that market parking is not allowed on the adjacent town park land owned by Waioli Corp.
The approximately 56 farmers, artisans and food vendors are required to be present or to send a representative to the meeting if they wish to return to the Hanalei market.
The market has been redesigned for Saturday’s reopening with on-site parking availability for handicapped and guests.
Signs will be posted stating “No parking for Hanalei Farmers Market at Waioli Town Park.”
The board proposed an alternative plan to open up the grassy area of Hale Halawai to vendors. It allows one spot per vendor, and when it is full guests would need to find street parking.
Van De Veer said the popularity of the Hanalei market over the past 12 years helped create the parking issues. The expansion to include artists and crafters also added to that growth.
The closure prompted a community reaction that resulted in a 1,500-signature petition in support of the market.
The board and vendors went directly to the county to ask for assistance in clarifying issues and finding a resolution.
Pacheco said the community reaction may have been the same for any market closing because the people who use them have established trusted relationships with the vendors.
“It was an abrupt shutdown and the vendors felt it could have stayed open another week until this was resolved,” he said.
Louisa Wooton of Kaua‘i Kunana Dairy said she has been with the Hanalei market from the start. As a coach she said the concern about cars parked on the soccer field is genuine, but that vendors are upset over the sudden closure.
“I feel like it was much to do about nothing,” Wooton said. “Some people are discouraged.”
Gary Pacheco intervened with the county on behalf of the vendors and met with Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
He said Board Secretary Naomi Yokotake also met with the mayor.
The Hanalei market was started with dedicated funds from the county, but is a private nonprofit and has no current financial relationship with the county.
“The county is working with us and this will be a win-win,” Pacheco said. “The mayor was very receptive and said he would do everything in his power for the county to facilitate our request.”
In the meantime, a number of vendors who were unsure of the outcome turned to the new Saturday morning Namahana Farmers Market in Kilauea that started up last December.
The market tripled in size last Saturday.
Cherie Grousset, president of the Anaina Hou Community Park, a private nonprofit that runs that runs Namahana with 14 to 18 regular vendors, said their members were sympathetic to the Hanalei group.
“There was a lot of hearsay, and a lot of emotion around the whole thing,” Grousset said.
The Hanalei arts and crafts vendors are welcome at the Namahana market through the end of June.
After that, Grousset said, they would be welcome to join the Monday arts and crafts fair from 4 to 6 p.m.
“In no way is the Saturday market going to become a craft market,” Grousset said. “It’s a temporary solution and a reaction to the immediate displacement of crafts vendors because they were given no notice.”
The arts and crafts market has eight vendors and attracts around 100 customers each week. Grousset predicts the event will succeed due to the energy of the people involved.
The Facebook message said the Hale Halawai Ohana O Hanalei board is going to enforce guidelines that require vendors to sell products made on Kaua‘i by Kaua‘i people, and use Kaua‘i materials where possible.
Robin Torquati, a vendor of organically grown garden plants, has sold exclusively at the Hanalei market for more than two years.
She said the Hanalei community is very supportive.
“I’ve made really good money at Hanalei from the beginning,” Torquati said.