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North Kohala Food Forum

North Kohala

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Andrea Dean co-facilitates the North Kohala Food Forum, which took place in Kapa'au on Saturday, August 22, 2009

How does a community move towards producing 50% of its own food? This past Saturday, about 200 North Kohala residents came together at the North Kohala Food Forum in Kapa'au to find out. The North Kohala Food Forum began by surveying about 70 people in the food community in the following categories: food retailers, commercial food growers, commercial and institutional buyers, government-planning-education, and infrastructure managers. The survey results formed the basis for Saturday's event.

In the morning session, the facilitators, Bob Martin of the North Kohala Community Resource Center, Andrea Dean, Green Business Coach, Forrest Arnold of Sustainable Kohala, and Guy Kaulukukui of the Kohala Center, focused on "defining the gap"—the reasons that North Kohala does not supply more of the food the community consumes.

Some key survey findings on the commercial production side are:

  • Local commercial food producers grow 80% of the varieties needed.
  • However, local food production volume appears to be relatively low.
  • Only 39% of our 28 commercial food producers make their living producing food.
  • Only half of our food producers are financially successful.
  • 68% of the produced food is sold, 12% is bartered.
  • 70% of local producers are exporting food out of North Kohala

On the consumption side of the equation:

  • Local food represents 1% of local retail food sales, and about 8% of local restaurant & caterer sales.

Overall, the North Kohala Food Forum survey data points to the conclusion that localfood represents only 2-4% of all food consumed in North Kohala, compared withour goal of 50%. As facilitator Bob Martin pointed out, "Houston, we have a problem!"

A highlight of the day was the extraordinary local-food-only lunch, organized by Steering Committee member Karen Rosen. Local vegetables, fruit and meat wereserved in about twenty separate, wildly colorful entrees for participants tochoose from.

Andrea Dean facilitated the afternoon session which focused on identifying collaborations and potential partnerships. Over a dozen projects and business opportunities emerged from the session. If you live in North Kohala and want toget involved, you can contact the identified point person for the following initiatives:

  • David and Ruth Rotstein from Lone Palm Farm put forth a proposal that they would like to contract with someone in the North Kohala community to grow a crop for them. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Doug & Sarah Lombardo, who have experience in growing, marketing and distributing herbs are looking for partners to lease land, share crop and connect with marketing and distribution opportunities. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Commercial kitchen. Renee has an interest in helping the commercial kitchen movement. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Land Leasing Agreements and Contracts. A working group formed to explore different forms of land leasing agreements and contracts. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Breadfruit. A working group formed to work with Ric Rocker on expanding the growing and use of breadfruit. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • North Kohala Grown marketing initiative. Having a booth at the Farmer's Market as well as at the Kohala Country Fair to promote locally grown food. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Local Food for Senior Nutrition program. Pete Hoffmann, Hawai'i County Councilman, would like community members to help own this initiative. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Locally Grown Day at local restaurants. Joan Channon and Tom Baldwin will be spearheading an effort for Bamboo and other local restaurants to feature locally grown foods. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • North Kohala School Gardens. A group volunteered to help Nancy Redfeather with getting school gardens started at the elementary and middle schools. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Peter Beemer attracted a group to work with him on promoting farming as an attractive and viable career for youth to be proud of. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Cooperative. Forrest Arnold is facilitating a discussion around forming a Co-op. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Shannon Casey believes that the school garden and educational initiatives should be integrated with the co-op effort and will be the liaison between the two groups. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Transition Town Handbook: Tom Baldwin is selling the Transition Town Handbook and there is a book group forming at Dee Chapon's house. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Learn more, view survey results and presentation slides

The North Kohala Food Forum is a project of the North Kohala Community Resource Center.Funding was provided by: County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development, Ulupono Initiative, Hoea Agricultural Park, Starseed Ranch, and Steering Committee members.

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