Aloha Aina Workforce: Hawaii Farmer’s Markets

Stormy works as a Marketing Specialist for the Hawaii Farmers Market Association through the Aloha Aina Workforce Program. The HFMA is a state wide unifying organization with the goal of providing one main hub that everyone can go to and find everything they need to know about every farmers market in the state!

The Hawaii Farmers Market Association seeks to work with the managers of farmers markets across the state to make the best markets possible. Stormy is working on making connections with the managers to develop content for the forthcoming website.

The HFMA

The Hawaii Farmers Market Association started this year with a USDA grant awarded to Hawaii Good Food Alliance. Prior to this, Hawaii was the only state in the nation that did not have a unifying organization for farmer’s markets. Imagine that! 

We join together – with a sense of urgency – to raise community voice and support one another in the belief that each and every person in Hawaii can share in healthy, locally produced food.

Hawaii Good Food Alliance

The purpose of the HFMA is to support farmers and food producers and make the farmers markets more successful. To that end, the organization makes available the support and training for the market managers to run a successful market. Market managers, in turn, will support the farmers. Managing a market is a big task; it’s more than lining up shade tents. Market managers need to know about insurance and advertising. They need to know about using tech at a market that may not have the available infrastructure. There is also an educatory side: a market manager will make a successful market if the public knows about the benefits of shopping local.

And market managers need to know about the movement for SNAP benefits implementation at markets, which is no easy task. The process to apply can take an unbelievable amount of time and the reporting process is tedious. Yet the benefits to community health and economics are measurable by how the availability of SNAP at farmers markets moves money around the local economy. Then, SNAP users can make healthy choices with fresh food. HFMA received a mini-grant this year to implement SNAP at markets and give everyone the tools and knowledge to forge ahead with sustainable SNAP markets.

Stormy showing off her content generating skills at the Hale Puna Farmers Market that takes place every Thursday in Waimea. Hale Puna is currently the only market that accepts SNAP.

Learning a new job

Stormy is helping to launch the new website for HFMA to market Kauai farmers markets as well as the markets of the whole state of Hawaii. She is connecting with the managers of each market on Kauai to offer support, and then this support will trickle down to farmers for mutual benefit. 

To develop the website she makes content for it. She is learning to blog and to navigate WordPress (no easy feat). She’s learning to take nice photos and how to use them to tell the stories she wants to tell. Stormy is connecting with food producers across the state, who she calls “food systems heroes”, and she loves learning about how they remain open and successful. The big thing she’s learning: how to be a professional in the business world.

Before Covid, Stormy was a server at The Eating House in Kukui’ula for ten years. Serving is a nice job to keep, but with the cutting back and closing of the restaurant, Stormy found herself with some time. After starting her quarantine garden like so many of us, she discovered how difficult it is to grow food and now wants to do all she can to support farmers. Doing it on an administrative level was a great opportunity presented to her by the Aloha Aina Workforce Program.

Stormy has always been a rallier for farmers markets, so the Hawaii Farmers Market Association seemed like a good fit for her. “This is the food from our ‘aina that we love. It’s important to support people who are gardening and farmers growing our food.” She has always wanted to have a career with the community playing an active role in Kauai’s success.

HFMA as a market hub

Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of the Hawaii Farmers Market Association website that will be a hub for all things farmers market: a resource for the market organizer, the farmer, and the consumer. HFMA is a part of Hawaii Good Food Alliance, a group dedicated to “communities uniting to grow, eat and share”. Learn more about them on their website and how you can support their efforts.

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