NTBG weekly gathering growing

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Off the path and blowing in the South Shore wind, a lotus blossom bends away from the sun Thursday during the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Some wear masks, others don’t Thursday at the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Malia Allen and Stewart Bungcayao of Uncle Mikey’s Dried Fruit say “There’s no weird stuff in here” Thursday during the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Ashley LaBelle of LaBelle Lifewear shows off her nature-inspired line of perfumes and painted clothing during her first appearance at the Aloha Market Thursday at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula. LaBelle has been selling a couple of times a week in Princeville.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Shoppers meander down manicured walks past the gardens where eggplant protectors guard against roving feral chickens Thursday during the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Dr. Sunthara Hay of San Ramon, California, lops the cap off a coconut Thursday as he helps with Sakda Farm during the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Usa Meephol of Sakda Farm answers questions about pineapples Thursday during the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center in Kukui‘ula.

Dr. Sunthara and Neath Hay of San Ramon, California, were having a lot of fun Thursday during the Aloha Market at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center.

“This is so relaxing,” Neath Hay said, waiting for shoppers to finish drinking the fresh coconut water before helping Bea Meephol scrape the coconut flesh — it’s called “meat” — into a plastic bag for carrying. “He’s a Ob/Gyn doctor, so he knows how to cut. We just got here, so we thought we would help our friends at Sakda Farm. This is so good. I hope we can live here one day so we can farm.”

Sakda Farm was one of the vendors at the weekly Aloha Market that meets at the NTBG South Shore Visitor Center and provides a shopping experience for the steady stream of visitors to the facility located across the meadow from Spouting Horn Park.

“We’re growing,” said Gwen Silva of the NTBG visitor center. “This is our seventh week, and today we have 30 vendors. We’re still operating the tours and visitor center on shortened hours, but that’s changing, too. We’re hiring more people so, hopefully, that’s going to allow us to get back to regular hours.”

Malia Allen and Stewart Bungcayao of Uncle Mikey’s Dried Fruit in Hanalei was one of the vendors, the Aloha Market being the first time they worked a farmers’ market.

“We don’t put weird stuff in here,” Allen said. “My father started this business in 2004 in hopes of having something the sisters could eventually take over. We’ve shipped product all over the world, but this is the first time we doing this craft-fair thing, so we’re learning. We’ve come for five weeks, and it’s been good.”

The market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Food can be found at a stand operated by Risa Clemmons, a normal farm-product vendor who sells a variety of Thai foods as well as a unique gingerade that helped with the rapidly-rising heat on the South Shore. Additional food came from the Shaka Burger food truck that rolled into the tram parking area, to the delight of youngsters already made hungry by the South Shore sun.

“This is my first time at this market,” said Ashley LaBelle of LaBelle Lifewear, who logged orders and sales from early in the market. “The paintings I do on the clothing and the perfume line are inspired by nature — the ocean, citrus, the fruits and nature. I normally sell a couple of times a week in Princeville, so this is a change for me.”

Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Haku, a farmers’-market and special-events lei maker prior to COVID-19, said the Aloha Market is her sole outlet now.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

2 Comments
  1. Rev Dr Malama June 18, 2021 9:05 am Reply

    No weird stuff?
    Let’s see proof of remediation of the land that is now being leased to these hard working farmers and vendors!!!
    GMO fields and ex plantation lands…
    Toxic buildup of chemicals for decades and centuries of pesticide spraying has amounted to dust, produce and our water filled with unsafe amounts of cancer causing, man made weed KILLER, pesticides and nitrates….
    Get the land back to healthy production through ORGANIC COMPOST AND FERTILIZER…..
    HELP OUR STREAMS, RIVERS AND OCEAN THROUGH REMEDIATION!!!
    ALL LIFE IS AT STAKE HERE.

    Odd that NBTG would advocate the marketing of questionable products.


  2. Shelly June 19, 2021 6:20 pm Reply

    I am concerned about the farmers practices/ yes I would like assurance the food is grown in a safe / healthy manner,,, also farmers need support to test the dirt and know about the quality of the water. You know Groove Farm and others who lease land need to monitor and assure land and water is safe…


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