State DOT Orders Haleiwa Farmers Market To Close

The popular Haleiwa Farmers Market has been ordered to close by the state Department of Transportation. Its final Sunday sale will be April 29 – unless a stay is granted or some other agreement can be reached.

Market manager Pamela Boyar said she got a call from the North Shore Chamber of Commerce April 7 and was told it had been contacted by the Honolulu Police Department because DOT had issued a letter to the market requiring it to vacate the area. Boyar said the announcement was a surprise, since the market had been working with the DOT for seven months to negotiate a lease agreement for the area.

“We can’t tell the crops in the fields – the crops planted by small family farmers, the crops grown specifically for this farmer’s market with the express purpose of feeding the North Shore and surrounding communities – to cease and desist.”

The market had been operating on a month-to-month agreement with the state since 2009 but the location became an issue last year when the site was determined to still be part of a highway right of way. In 1993 the state completed the Joseph P. Leong Bypass, and the 2.5-acre parcel became an unused dead end. State law forbids the sale of goods along highways.

“I can’t believe it,” said market co-manager Annie Suite. “All these small farmers potentially losing the best venue the North Shore has ever had. We have more than 2,300 people that come through the market every Sunday. We sell out our 100 dozen organic eggs every week.”

DOT said the order was given because the state faced liability issues should anyone get hurt in the area while the market is operating. Boyar disagrees that the area is dangerous, saying no one has been injured in the three years the market has run and that a roadside guardrail helps to protect vendors and customers.

“We are not on a shoulder, we are on an abandoned road so we feel the intent of the law is not happening on the property we are on,” said Boyar. “We are hoping we can get an extention until we can figure out where we are going to go.”