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The Strategic Plan for a Local Food System in North Kohala

North-Kohala-50percentIn 2008, the residents of North Kohala stated a strong desire in its Community Development Plan to "Keep Kohala, Kohala." As a historically agricultural community, part of "Keep Kohala, Kohala," is to develop a community life rooted in sharing and bartering from individual homesteads that grow food and animals, as well as gathering from the communal mountains, gulches and ocean.

Most of the land in Kohala is agriculturally zoned. The sentiment of Kohala residents is generally that they would like to see agricultural land used for agriculture, not luxury subdivisions and/or "gentlemen estates."

In service of this sentiment, the community has a strategy to promote and support a community of diversified agriculture and the goal to "produce 50% of the food it consumes."

This past year the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign, in partnership with Kahua Pa'a Mua and the Kohala Intergenerational Center, facilitated a community process to develop a strategic plan to help guide the community in achieving its 50% goal. Over 200 families (adults and youth) in the community contributed to the data and ideas in the plan.

The plan is titled Growing a Local Food System in North Kohala—Planning for 50% Food Self-Sufficiency.

The North Kohala community identified ten reasons why increased food self-sufficiency is important:

  • Natural Environment
  • Food Security
  • Agricultural Production
  • Health
  • Infrastructure
  • Economy
  • Education
  • Agricultural Practices
  • Culture
  • Community Building and Culture

In the plan each of these values is associated with a goal, along with detailed information about baseline data. Much of the baseline data was originally gathered as part of the 2009 North Kohala Food Forum, and has subsequently been validated during our strategic planning process.

In addition to the ten values, the community identified seven areas of strategic importance:

  • Food Processing
  • Food Production
  • Education
  • Increase Access to Locally Grown Foods
  • Waste and Agricultural Inputs
  • Water
  • Energy

The Plan identifies specific objectives and implementation strategies for each of these areas.

Growing a Local Food System in North Kohala—Planning for 50% Food Self-Sufficiency will be a useful document to all of the farmers and organizations in North Kohala who are working on growing the local food system. The plan provides a community mandate, base-line data, and clear direction that can be used as foundational information for business plans and grant proposals.

Changing or "re-localizing" the food system of a community—or island—is no small task. It took hundreds of years and many changes in political, cultural and social structure to get us where we are today. In that context, we are actually making very rapid changes.

There are many positive indicators of growth towards a local food system in North Kohala— the Hawi Farmers Market has a steady increase of vendors, many farmers and value-added producers are selling out all of their food products each week, new small farms and farmers are launching agricultural ventures, 75% of the community reports growing some of their food, and the Kohala High School, Middle School and Elementary Schools each have agriculture and garden programs. Most importantly, we have a vibrant community of people of all ages and ethnicities who are excited and committed to the local food movement in North Kohala.

For a complete look at the North Kohala planning process and foundational documents, including Growing a Local Food System in North Kohala—Planning for 50% Food Self-Sufficiency, see: http://foodhubkohala.org/planning-data/

Andrea Dean, MBA, of Sustainable Initiatives works with communities, businesses and non-profits on initiatives that enhance island economy, environment and community. Andrea is also the Special Projects Coordinator for the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network, and is co-coordinator of the Ho'oulu ka 'Ulu--Revitalizing Breadfruit program.

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