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Keeping Kohala, Kohala
North Kohala Community Plans For Food-Self Sufficiency
Native Hawaiians in pre-contact days produced enough food in North Kohala to feed a population of 30,000. Today, we have a population of about 6,000 and we import some 85% of our food. North Kohala is a community with an ambitious goal and we are creating a community-based strategic plan to achieve that goal.
The North Kohala Community Development Plan (CDP) states a strong desire to “Keep Kohala, Kohala.” As a historically agricultural community, part of “Keeping Kohala, Kohala,” is the strong community that results from the sharing and bartering of food and animals from individual homesteads, and the gathering from the mountains, gulches, and ocean.
About 80% of the land in Kohala is zoned for agricultural use. According to the CDP, “The sentiment of Kohala residents is generally that they would like to see this land utilized for agriculture. One of their biggest concerns is the misuse of this land for luxury subdivisions and/or “gentlemen estates.”
North Kohala has a strategy and goal in its CDP as follows:
- Strategy 1.4: Promote and Support a Community of Diversified Agriculture.
- Goal: The Kohala community will produce 50% of the food it consumes.
In addition to wanting to maintain the rural, agricultural flavor of Kohala, there are other benefits to increased diversified agriculture and food self-sufficiency.
1.Reliable, Affordable and Safe Food Source
Many people worry about “if the ships stop coming” or if parts of the global food supply are disrupted or unhealthy due to pathogens, war, terrorist attacks, or lack of supply. There is also concern over increasing fuel prices and how that will affect the cost of food in Hawai‘i.
2.Healthier Population and a Healthier Community
Many of our community’s health problems are related to a poor diet of imported processed foods—57% of Hawai‘i’s population is overweight or obese and this increases the chance that they will suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and many other related diseases. Childhood obesity is on the rise and puts our keiki at risk for all of these same diseases. Increasing the affordability and availability of fresh, local, sustainably grown, nutrient rich foods is healthier for the community.
3. More Food = More Farmers
Small farming must be profitable in order for our youth to want to start new agricultural businesses in the community. The more we support local farmers and local businesses the more money we will keep in our local economy.
4. Strong Families and Community
Small family farms create opportunities for families to work together.A strong agricultural community has strong relationships between growers and consumers, and business to business. Relationships between people are also built around food production, preservation, harvesting, sharing and eating.
How will North Kohala achieve its goal of 50% food self-sufficiency?
There is currently a community-based process for developing a Strategic Plan for achieving the 50% goal. Bob Agres from Hawai‘i Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HACBED) has worked with a core North Kohala planning group to help us develop an ‘Ohana Dialogue process for gathering input from the community in small groups. We have trained Meeting Hosts who are hosting small group meetings in their homes, businesses, churches, schools, and organizations.
Growing a Local Food System in North Kohala—Strategic Planning for Food Self-Sufficiency is a project of the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign, Ka Hana No’eau and Kohala Intergenerational Center with assistance from the Hawai‘i Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HACBED). Funding provided by the County of Hawai‘i and Kaiser Permanente. More at eatlocalhi.org or call Andrea Dean, North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Project Coordinator at 960-3727.