Westside farmers market accepts EBT

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    The Gulick-Rowell House in Waimea has been renamed Hale Puna, meaning “House of Coral,” and is currently being renovated.

  • Fanny Rose / via Hale Puna

    Braden Lumabao does some quick advertising for the Hale Puna farmers market, which is held every Thursday at the Hale Puna Gulick-Rowell House in Waimea.

WAIMEA — You can now use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) cards for local produce at the Westside Hale Puna farmers market.

Breadfruit and avocados, greens and garden veggies are all up for sale at this little market, which is supplied by a garden at the historic Waimea Gulick-Rowell House and by Westside farmers.

It’s a project that’s been in the works for two years, said Fanny Rose, who is spearheading the SNAP program for the nonprofit Hale Puna.

“Back then (in 2017) it was a nightmare. There was no wireless way to accept EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer payments), which made it difficult for farmers markets,” Rose said. “But we finally have the EBT machine.”

When she started the project, Rose promoted the availability of EBT at the Thursday Hale Puna markets. But she had to pause the effort after running into more problems, mainly an end to federal funding that helped with processing fees and a confusing switch in the processing machine.

With an absence of an EBT machine, but word already out in the community that one was available, customers dwindled — and so did vendors.

The market was hanging by a thread during that time, but things have changed over at the Gulick-Rowell House, she said.

The EBT machine arrived, but it isn’t the only new thing at the Hale Puna house either, as they’re slowly adding more Westside farmers to the roster, and recently added a chocolate farmer.

Every Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., the front of the Hale Puna Gulick-Rowell House is dominated by local produce. Inside the historic front doors is a new museum where all can check out Westside history.

There, see artifacts from life on what was known as “Missionary Row,” now Huakai Road, hear stories of the many families that lived in the house, starting with the Rev. Peter Johnson Gulick, who started construction on the home in 1829.

Those stories will be coming to life in the next few months thanks to a grant from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities that will allow Hale Puna to start a history theater project at the house.

“With the help of a couple historians, we’ve written some monologues from the perspective of the townspeople who lived in or around the house in the past 200 or 300 years,” Rose said. “We’re still looking for local actors.”

If they can fill all the roles before February, the plan is to debut the monologues the weekend of the annual Waimea Town Celebration.

While they’re making moves to create an immersive, historic and educational experience over at the Gulick-Rowell House, the nonprofit is also getting ready to take some next steps in the ongoing renovation.

Right now, sealing the building is of critical concern, and Hale Puna received several grants over the summer that have helped the historic restoration process along.

“The first step is getting it watertight. The roof over the lanais and the lanais themselves and the windows and doors,” Rose said. “Once those two things are done, we can chill out for a bit because it’ll be preserved.”

Once the house is again watertight, Hale Puna will go room by room, judging what renovations make sense.

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