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Building local, sustainable food communities on Hawai'i Island
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Three years ago, Kua o ka La New Century Public Charter School, (KOKL NCPCS) began the formation of an agriculture and culinary class for its middle school students. The idea was an outgrowth of our regular Friday, project-based class for middle and high school students. The class applied the students’ science and social studies learning to projects of daily life relevance and practical skills, with the added benefit of being outdoors and hands-on.
Executive Chef, Four Seasons Resort, Hualālai at Ka‘ūpūlehu, Kailua-Kona
When Chef Babian came to Hawai‘i Island 14 years ago, he informed hotel management that his style is centered on supporting the local agricultural community through sourcing food “from the region, buying things that are in season, and using products from small artisan farmers, such as Kona coffee, goat cheese, and honey.” The concept of supporting local producers Babian feels is an ancient concept that chefs are rediscovering around the world, bringing the restaurant industry “back to the ground roots” and developing strong farm to table programs.
On January 19 the first workshop in the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown & Sustainable Kohala's co-sponsored Sustainable Saturdays Series took place at Puanui, one of the many narrow, leeward ahu'pua'a that make up the Kohala Dryland Field System. A group of more than 50 participants came from all parts of Kohala (and from as far as Hilo and Puna) to learn "All About 'Uala (Sweetpotato)" from Kehaulani Marshall and Ala Lindsey of Ulu Mau Puanui.
Marketing and business consultant, Produce to Product, Inc. and former manager Keauhou Farmers Market
The Kona County Farm Bureau created the Keauhou Farmers Market in 2006 to provide a venue for farmers to be able to sell their produce direct to consumers. All vendors are required to be farmers selling primarily their own products, although they may also resell goods from other local farmers, but not from imported sources or wholesalers. Vendors are also encouraged to sell their own value-added products such as jams and jellies, flavored macadamia nuts, 100% Kona coffee, chocolate, etc., as long as the main ingredients are grown and produced locally.
Surinam cherry is a juicy, sweet-tart fruit generally considered “kid’s food” for picking and eating out-of-hand. In Hawai‘i tasting trials of unusual fruits several years ago, chefs were attracted to the strong, resinous flavors Surinam cherry and began developing unusual dishes highlighting it. By developing a market among chefs over a few years, Surinam cherry has increased in price from $1.25/lb to $6.50/lb.
For nearly three years I have had the 'job' of visiting farmers markets and individual farmers for Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network, including some who participate in CSA farming (Community Supported Agriculture by membership or prescription), and visiting stores that sell homegrown foods and products around our island. I call it a job because it is a commitment, but it is also a privilege and the best and most fun job I've ever had.
We have about 30 farmers markets scattered all around the island. Some are large and some are very small, but when you consider that each market hosts at minimum 3-5 farmers, and usually many more, plus the scores who do not participate in farmers market sales, you can begin to appreciate how many dedicated people there are who grow food on this island.
- 4th Annual Local vs. Imported Supermarket Produce (2012): A need for commitment
- Busy restaurants require produce suppliers with professional business practices
- Farmer Mahalo Day at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
- Breadfruit Festival 2012
- Sheet mulch
- Home Grown Hawai'i Store with owner Michael Scott
- Build personal relationships with customers: Emmerich Grosch
- Bananas in Hawai'i Today