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.
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.
I was recently invited to attend a Farmers & Chef Symposium and Lunch held at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu in North Kona. This is the 3rd Annual event of its kind held at the hotel and serves as a way for Executive Chef James Babian and his staff to show their appreciation to the farmers, fishermen and other local purveyors who are the source of most of the food served by the hotel. The event started with a welcome from Robert Whitfield, General Manager, and Chef Jim then introduced several key people in the hotel's Food & Beverage Department.
Based on West Hawaii Today Food Ads from Sept. 2011 to Sept. 2012
From 2009 to 2012 I have tracked the weekly food ads to discern any trends or major changes in the percentages of local produce to imported produce advertised in West Hawaii Today. The Big Island stores monitored include: KTA, Choice Mart, Foodland and Safeway.
Matt Thoman, Kitchen Manager, and Krista Donaldson, Sustainability Supervisor
Kona Brewing Company, Kailua-Kona, North Kona
Kona Brewing Company was founded in 1993 by father and son team Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa with the philosophy of “living aloha.” Their company has grown to become the 13th largest craft brewery in the U.S. and their Kailua-Kona restaurant alone reaches $3.5 million dollars in gross revenue per year. With a policy of providing quality food and supporting the local community, about 65% of their produce comes from local sources. “To reach our sustainability goals, we can’t just rest on our successes. We are constantly looking for new produce sources and ways to innovate,” says Matt Thoman, kitchen manager.
- Home Grown Hawai'i Store with owner Michael Scott
- Build personal relationships with customers: Emmerich Grosch
- Sheet mulch
- Kea'au Natural Foods Store, with owner Wes Fujii
- Persevere through challenges: Roy Y. Honda Farm
- Bananas in Hawai'i Today
- Supporting homegrown food
- Create strong relationships with customers: Adaptations