Nalo Farms opens Leeward Farmers Market at LCC

Aug 12, 2013 | PC Community


Dean Okimoto, founder of Nalo Farms in Waimanalo, opened the much anticipated Leeward Farmers Market at Leeward Community College (LCC) on Sunday much to the delight of the Pearl City community who now has an excellent opportunity to shop for locally grown produce, fresh from the farm.

Along with fresh produce, shoppers can also pick up anything from Hawaiian Greek Yogurt from the Happy Heifer (the best, freshest yogurt I have ever tasted) to Guava Smoked treats, to Roasted Corn, Kiawe Pizza, Shave Ice from Shiga'licious, Fresh squeezed lemonade, Koko Crater Coffee, to healthy Oatcakes from Akamai Foods.

Nalo Farms and Leeward Community College have entered into a partnership to present the farmers market in the LCC campus parking lot every Sunday from 10am-2pm. The partnership also includes a unique working relationship that has been developed to benefit the world class LCC culinary program and its students with an opportunity to learn from and work with Nalo Farms and its management team that is also recognized as a leader in the agriculture industry with its innovative approach to growing and presenting a world class product to the public.

Nalo Farms brings a commitment to serving communities here in Hawaii with programs that bring together the community, education, and agriculture via the success of farmers markets that they operate across Oahu on a weekly basis. The Leeward Farmers Market extends their reach to the growing west side population as well as directly upon the expansion and development of programs at LCC. At the same time, small local farmers have another opportunity to sell their fresh grown products to local consumers.

“The main thing is we wanted to melt community, education and agriculture together, and I think that’s the key in all of this," said Dean Okimoto, Nalo Farms founder. "We want the college to benefit, we want the community to benefit, as well as them being able to come on and meet farmers first hand. It’s going to be different, because this isn’t going to be geared towards tourist like it is at KCC.  It’s going to be geared more for the local community. We’re hoping that we can get the people that don’t want to deal with the crowds at KCC, and just come out here and enjoy themselves. It’s a very important part of what we do in going forward.  We want to make sure that we do the right things for the community as well as the small farmers and all of agriculture. With Leeward Community College’s Culinary Program they’ve been a vital part in promoting local with their students. Having the students using local is important for the farmers going forward too."

“It’s exciting to be a part of this partnership with Nalo Farms," said Ron Umehira, LCC Dean of Career & Technical Education. "They are the ones that actually organized all of the vendors to be here. There are a lot of beneficiaries to having a farmers market. One is for the farmers to have the opportunity to sell their food, and for the community to buy fresh and buy local. It also provides the college with an opportunity for our culinary students to do hands on with their skills so that they can could sell and produce their foods. Also, the other programs that we have at Leeward we would like to promote and advertise, mainly because we’re the college of the community. The more we can expose all of our programs the better. In fact, the building behind us is the new education building which is going to open up in a couple of months. The education program started about four years ago with forty students and now we have over five-hundred students. There are a lot of programs that we would like to showcase to our community so that they know what kind of programs they can take both on a credit and non-credit basis here at the college.

With Dean and also with Nalo Farms, they’re also on our on advisory committee. Dean and several other local food vendors and restaurant owners provide the college with advice as far as with our curriculum and the kind of courses that we should offer our students.  Also, what kind of equipment, so at least we can be up to date with all the necessary tools so that we can prepare our students for the industry."

Dillan Hanawahine who is currently in the Nalo Farms Management Trainee Program is the point man for the Leeward Farmers Market and is excited to get the company’s latest farmers market operation and location underway and is looking forward to serving Leeward side residents and their families.

“We are excited to open on the Leeward side with all the potential of how much people live on this side now," said Hanawahine. "Also that the Farmers Market being located on the Leeward Community College campus, it’s so spacious. What’s special about this one is we’re going to gear it towards local people and having it more towards the local flavors. We also kind of feel it’s what we preach in a local and sustainable community and having all those values incorporated in one farmers market."

Honolulu City Councilman Breene Harimoto who represents Waipahu, Pearl City, and Aiea couldn't be happier with Sunday's opening of the Leeward Farmers Market.

"This is great. Anything to get the families and the people together is really appreciated," said Councilman Harimoto. "It’s a wonderful event getting healthy foods to our citizens and I think the quality of the vendors here that I can see is really high. This will be a big success. A big plus is with all the connections and everybody coming together.  Again, it just brings everybody and every organization together. Nalo Farms working with Leeward Community College and Waipahu and Pearl City. It’s great!”

Okimoto expressed his gratitude for the support received from LCC administrators and the partnership that they have bonded through a shared a vision for the future. 

"Thank you to Mark Lane who is the Vice Chancellor at LCC, and Ron Umehira, who has been instrumental in getting us here," Okimoto said. "Also, Tommy Lynn Benavidez and Linda Yamada, all of them with Leeward Community College have been instrumental . You know it’s all about partnerships. They saw the vision too.“

“It's very important to be here today," said Chelsea, a specialty food vendor from Akamai Foods. "I think it’s a really neat market and I don’t think there are enough farmers markets on this side of the island. This is great!"

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Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

The Nalo Farms management team pictured at the entrance to the Nalo Farms Leeward Farmers

Market at Leeward Community College on Sunday, August 11, 2013. (From left to right) General

Manager Leslie Hanawahine, Management Trainee Dillan Hanawahine, and Nalo Farms founder

Dean Okimoto.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

A traditional Hawaiian blessing was performed before the ribbon cutting ceremony that officially

opened the Nalo Farms Leeward Farmers Market to the public.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Honolulu City Councilman Breene Harimoto was an invited guest speaker on Sunday representing

the city but was also there to wish his friend Dean Okimoto the best of the luck with the grand 

opening of the new Nalo Farms Leeward Farmers Market.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

"Who needs a scissors to cut a ribbon when you have farm tools like this," says Nalo Farms

founder Dean Okimoto following the ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Area residents showed up early on Sunday to browse through and shop at the great selection of food,

drinks, and plant vendors at the Nalo Farms Leeward Farmers Market's grand opening.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Chelsea from Akamai Foods is pictured behind her ono selection of Low Fat Oatcakes. Chelsea's

business represents Nalo Farms Leeward Farmers Market's goal of offering healthy eating alternatives

to their customers.