Meet Hawaii’s greenest farmers market

Searching for local produce with a minimal eco-footprint? Look no further than the Hale’iwa Farmers’ Market, which claims — convincingly — to be Hawaii’s greenest.

Hale’iwa Town is located on Oahu‘s legendary North Shore, in the heart of the big-wave surf scene. Its market is open every Sunday from 9pm to 1am, and aims to be Hawaii’s first totally green, zero-waste market.When I visited, more than 40 vendors had laid out their finest fresh produce, crafts and prepared foods. Most came from the North Shore, though a few items came in from elsewhere on Oahu or neighboring islands. I cruised along the rows of stands and bought a mango and pineapple smoothie that had been blended using the market’s solar power. The smoothie and the avocado sandwich I went for next were both served to me in corn-based disposable containers — unlike their plastic cousins, my containers were biodegradable.

In the midst of the vendors I found the Zero Waste Station, where the market’s trash was sorted. Food scraps go to a local pig farmer, the disposable dishes get composted, glass and cans are recycled, and a last — hopefully unnecessary — bin takes any remaining garbage.

Hale’iwa’s market may not be on wheels, but its commitment to minimal waste puts it on the cutting edge of American farmers’ markets. If you can tear yourself away from the surf (and the surfers), it makes a great Sunday breakfast or lunch stop on Oahu’s North Shore.

Check out the gallery below for some shots from the market. Fresh produce fanatic? Gadling has more farmers’ markets recommendations for you.

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[Disclosure: My visit to the Hale’iwa Farmers’ Market was part of a trip sponsored by the Oahu Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. Nonetheless, my opinions about the epic rightness of blending mango and pineapple together are my own.]

Photo of the Day: Norway Fjord in Spring

SPRING! That wonderful time of year when suddenly even the coldest places burst with new life and color. Today’s photo, taken by Flickr user Josh Loves It in Norway, is a great way to celebrate the return of this warmer season. The photo comes to us from Norway’s scenic Lofoten Islands, an isolated archipelago of isles located way up north beyond the Arctic Circle. These normally frigid islands burst with springtime color and scenery: pink and yellow wildflowers, glassy rivers and jagged peaks with a dusting of snow. You can almost smell the fresh air as you gaze at the scene.

Have any great photos from your own travels? Why not share them with us by adding them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

New water bottle stations in Grand Canyon make park safer, more “green”

New water bottle stations in the Grand Canyon will help the park go Stretching for 277 miles through the Arizona desert, the Grand Canyon is amongst the more impressive natural wonders you’ll ever see. It is over 6000 feet in depth and at its widest point, it is 18 miles across. Everything about the place is truly epic in scale, and that is why the park receives nearly 4.5 million visitors a year. But all those visitors can have an impact on the environment there, which is why the National Park Service recently took steps to protect the Canyon, while serving its visitors better at the same time.

A few weeks back the NPS completed the installation of nine water bottle stations in the park. Those stations, located in the highest traffic areas, will provide visitors with plenty of water while hiking in the canyon, which can be quite warm in many months of the year. Visitors are now encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles or hydration packs, and refill often while on the trail.

Keeping visitors hydrated during hot days in the park was only one of the reasons these stations were installed however. The Park Service estimates that about 30% of all the waste removed from the park comes from plastic water bottles, and they are hoping that these filling stations will become a more viable option for hikers, while cutting down on litter and the use of plastics in general. The Park’s leadership has made a commitment to being more environmentally friendly, and they’re encouraging visitors to do the same.

Six of the water stations have been installed along the South Rim at Hermits Rest; the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trailheads; the Canyon Village and Desert View Marketplaces; and
Grand Canyon, Verkamp’s and Desert View Visitor Centers. An additional three refilling stations have been installed along the North Rim at North Kaibab Trailhead, North Rim Visitor Center, and at the North Rim Backcountry Office. Two of those, the North Kaibab Trailhead and the North Rim Visitor Center are for seasonal use only, while all others provide access year round.

Considering how environmentally unfriendly plastic water bottles are, this is a great move for the Park Service. It is also a fantastic resource for travelers in the Grand Canyon as well. The hot, dry weather often surprises visitors to that park, and there are a high number of evacuations there each year for heat and dehydration related issues. Hopefully a readily available supply of water will help address that issue as well.

Solar powered theme park planned for the United Kingdom

Devon England’s Crealy Great Adventure Park has unveiled plans to be the United Kingdom’s first solar powered theme park. The plans involve the installation of 200,000 square feet of solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs of the park’s main buildings. In addition, panels will cover carports providing the dual purpose of sheltering guests’ cars while generating electricity.

The energy generated by the solar panels is expected to meet around 90% of the park’s needs during the peak summer months when sunlight is the brightest. The panels will power both buildings and rides like the park’s family roller coaster, Maximus. Surplus power will be fed into the National Grid.

While the news will likely generate some buzz for the park and increase the small park’s profile, I have to wonder if adding the panels will result in an increase in attendance. At the end of the day, an amusement park’s success is decided by its attractions and the experience it provides. Regardless, it is good to see someone leading sustainability efforts in the amusement industry. Crealy Great Adventure Park can already boast a green track record as it uses bio diesel oil for its vehicles, extracts water from a borehole, and uses local suppliers.


Archaeologists discover “Great Wall of Vietnam”

Vietnam, vietnamArchaeologists in central Vietnam have discovered what locals are calling the “Great Wall of Vietnam”, The Korean Times reports.

The wall is up to 4 meters (13 ft.) high in spots and stretches for 127 km (78 miles). While parts of it are an earth embankment instead of a stone wall, it’s still a major engineering feat and the longest monument in Southeast Asia. It’s almost as long as Hadrian’s Wall, the old Roman barrier between England and Scotland, and like Hadrian’s Wall has forts at regular intervals along its length.

Hiking Hadrian’s Wall is an awesome experience and has become increasingly popular in recent years. Perhaps Vietnam will add a Great Wall hike to the many attractions that draw tourists to their country.

Unlike its more famous namesake, the Great Wall of Vietnam is fairly recent. It was started in 1819 by order of the Emperor Gia Long of the Nguyen Dynasty, pictured here. It separated the lowlands from the northern mountains and was used not only for defense, but also to regulate trade.

[Photo courtesy Ledinhlong via Wikimedia Commons]