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Fledgling Co-op Hoping To Expand Its Waimanalo Operations

Waimanalo Co-op Market's steering committee at its membership launch last year: (from left) Leina'ala Bright, Angie Runyan, Ku'ulei Laughlin, Marlee Breese, Blanche McMillan, Ted Radovich, Kehaulani Padilla and Martha Ross. (Not present: Kukuna Yoshimoto). Photo from Martha Ross.

Waimanalo Co-op Market’s steering committee at its membership launch last year: (from left) Leina’ala Bright, Angie Runyan, Ku’ulei Laughlin, Marlee Breese, Blanche McMillan, Ted Radovich, Kehaulani Padilla and Martha Ross. (Not present: Kukuna Yoshimoto). Photo from Martha Ross.

Each Thursday, 160 pounds of ice packed in eight coolers marks the beginning of a new cycle for Waimanalo Market Coop, which is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the old Mel’s Market site.

But once things wind down Sunday, it’s time to pack everything up and start anew.

Interim general manager Martha Ross knows that things are looking bright for the co-op’s future, as about 100 people stop by daily to shop or check things out.

“It’s fun and exciting,” she said. “We’re all growing together. The community also is realizing that it can support its local farmers and local entrepreneurs by coming in.”

The co-op opened Nov. 14, 2013, and currently is owned and operated by 86 community members, according to Ross. It sprang from a desire for an accessible place to buy local produce and goods.

“Where maybe none of us could buy such a thing or get something going individually, we can do it collectively as consumers,” she explained, noting that there are about 36 consignment artists and 31 farmers and backyard growers currently providing produce and products weekly. This includes the GoFarm program at Windward Community College.

A wide array of products await shoppers, such as handmade, beach-inspired nightlights and fresh kulolo, but Ross believes produce is the key.

The co-op plans to install electricity and launch a capital campaign to elevate operations from per-diem rent to a full lease. Also on the wish list are refrigeration units, a small kitchen and expanded, value-added items like pickled mango, smoked meats and lilikoi butter.

To join the co-op or contribute products, drop by in person at 41-1029 Kalanianaole Hwy., or visit waimanalomarket.com.

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