About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

Colorful kabocha grown on the hillsides of Ka`u at farms and family gardens. Photos by Julia Neal
     HAWAI`I FARMERS UNION, which has a new Ka`u Chapter, sent out a Thanksgiving message yesterday from its president describing a movement with leaders who have “spoken and stood up for Aloha `Aina and Malama `Aina in their representation of ecological practices in growing agricultue here in Hawai`i.” Farmers Union President Vince Mina writes that the eight chapters statewide focus on regular membership meetings clebrating “the growing, harvesting and preparation of locally produced food, coupled with legislative, educational and collaborative initiatives, with an intention to support an abundant and resilient agricultural system here in Hawai`i Nei."
     Mina writes that  Farmers Union Vice President and legislative chair Simon Russell “has been building with our legislators to educate and advocate for infrastructural support for existing and new family farmers to be able to produce a consistent food supply for our islands."
Popcorn from a Ka`u farm above Pahala.
     Mina also states that “Since our values align with ecological, restorative and regenerative practices in growing our agricultural future, we must also grow our organization in order to be recognized as a viable farming organization as bills and resolutions go through the legislative process." He also points to Farmers Union members' involvement in a food summit at the 2015 Hawai`i State Legislature on Jan 5.

"FARMERS CAN BE RELATIVELY WEALTHY IN HAWAI`I," writes Simon Russell, Vice President and Legislative Chair for Hawai`i Farmers Union United. The opinion piece was carried in Civil Beat earlier this week. It states:
     “Prior to the Great Mahele and the abolition of the ancient Kapu system (a very effective land use regime), family farming was the only economy in Hawai`i. People lived on the land, and they lived off the land. Some of us would like a return to that concept, and in that process, build a food secure Hawai`i.
     "We as a society should take the wisdom of the ancestors from this special place many of us call home, and use it to our advantage. The ahupua’a and aha moku systems worked to feed the population, and today, one does not have to look too hard to see Hawai`i imports 50 percent of the kalo we consume.
Peppers, from yellow to orange and red.
   “Consider, dear reader, what that says about the priorities of our political establishment. One half of one percent of our agriculture production (measured in dollars) is in kalo (Taro) production. According to the Taro Task Force there are about 600 acres of Kalo production in Hawai`i including subsistence and commercial production as well as at cultural sites. In 1880 there were around 30,000 acres of kalo production. Cost of living, and availability of land and water are the primary cause of this sad paradigm. We can do better, and we will.
     ‘“The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer’ has never applied to society at large as it does today. Farming is considered a loss leader across the state in many agri-tourism business models. This need not be the case, with some political leadership and hard work; the family farmer can have a prosperous future in our beautiful island chain.
     “Let’s take a brief look at the Webster’s definition of wealth: 'A large amount of money and possessions [or]: the value of all the property, possessions, and money that someone or something has.'
     “To me that is a shallow definition, as the cleanliness of the environment has a component of wealth in it, the way you feel when you wake up in the morning (Your health and vitality) have intrinsic wealth factors, and of course your ability to care for and house your family also does.
     “But what about income thresholds? Are they a true measurement of a person’s wealth? In this writer’s opinion, the answer is no.
     “Humans need to redefine what the meaning of wealth is, if we would like a future we all can live with. Stuff does not equal wealth. If a person is very contented, loves where they live, has no debt and is able to care for their family in every material sense of the word, then I ask you, dear reader, do you think that person to be relatively wealthy?
     “What I propose is to generate a statewide consensus in support of agriculturalists living on the land, rent free and debt free, being empowered to grow the food Hawai`i needs grown.
     “As a farmer, I can say that the concept of relative wealth intrigues me, and believe that this idea should be explored by society at large. Measuring wealth in U.S. dollars is not working out so far.
     “Hawai`i should undergo a race to the moon type support for local agriculture (think back to the John F. Kennedy administration), that keeps as much of its capital in the Hawai`i economy as possible. It should not be overly subsidized (like commodity crops are today), as that is subject to failure in the long-term, but it should be supported by public and private sector entities in a coordinated and well considered way. 
Vine ripened tomatoes grown in Ka`u.
     “Agriculture lands have a recent history of regulatory abuse in Hawai`i, so regulators need all the staff they can get to prevent known and obvious abuse, and maintain the credibility of the farmers that will feed us when we give them the tools to avoid the pitfalls that are preventing this economic sector from realizing its full potential today.
    “What I propose is to generate a statewide consensus in support of agriculturalists living on the land, rent free and debt free, being empowered to grow the food Hawaii needs grown. What if a farmer could lease a piece of land for free, live on it, have all of the organic matter they needed, as well as spend minor amounts of cash (>$1,000/year) on biological farming inputs, and share a facility to process and distribute the output? How many people in the state would commit to living in this way, sort of like the old ahupua’a system, but with a 21st century twist? Inquiring minds want to know. In essence, those ideas are at the core of the Hawai`i Farmers Union United legislative package for 2015.
     “With adequate public and private support our fragile agriculture sector can blossom when it is asked to support institutional consumers, i.e. military, schools, hospitals and other large scale customers. When we can get our farmers growing at scale using regenerative techniques that enrich the land, by always putting fertility back in, food production will get to a point that market demand will begin to drop the price of locally grown foods, then the possibility of price parity with cheap imports will be more likely and the average person will begin to buy local. The key is to make it affordable for people to farm here in the most expensive place in the USA.
     “Personally, I almost never have a disposable income, it takes everything I have to raise my family and pay my bills, but I have no debt. As a farmer, I look forward to being part of growing long-term food security for the state of Hawai`i by being an active component in the robust network of regional food systems we are currently building. This food system hinges on the crucial element that is the capability of the farmer to build equity in a farm that is leased for life, with the ability to pass it on to their heirs, or the ability to liquidate it for the value of the equity investment made, as the maintained value would be documented.
     “Pride of ownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream. Without ownership, where is the incentive to malama ‘aina? Why not just extract the fat of the land and move on to other land once soil fertility is depleted? Add chemicals when nutrients are depleted, and spray for pests, when plant health declines and nature attempts to remove the weak from the gene pool.
Red ribbed chard with its many nutrients.
     “The answer is there are other ways to do agriculture, ones that utilize the forces of nature to accelerate plant and animal health, require less imported inputs and cost next to nothing. The catch is that they are hands-on methods; the farmer needs to be there every day, living on the land to live off the land.
     "A sure way to get a majority of farmers to care for the land is to give them lifetime leases of it. Oversight from the owner/Land Trust who enforces production thresholds and monitors agricultural non-compliance would be standardized. Owner farmers will have the incentive they need to make the right choices for the future, maintain their investment, and leave it better for the next generation. Tennant farmers do not have these types of incentives.
     "What I am talking about here is called an agricultural land trust, and it will own large chunks of ag lands and leases to farmers for life. We all know that farming is not super profitable in the monetized sense of say, a Morgan Stanley or Citibank, but we can all agree that it is a necessary and elementary component in a sustainable economy, and it creates a lot of jobs. The beauty of this agricultural model is that it creates housing for low income people as well. In our pricy housing market, this is a real political winner with the people, and a great incentive to grow some food.
     "Be a part of our agricultural future, be wealthy in ways that you may not have considered before, join the Hawaii Farmers Union United for a solutionary and sustainable approach to building food security across the state, join us in creating the 21st century ahupua’a system.
     "We are in a time where we have the ability to put robots on mars, but in Hawaii, for economic reasons, it is increasingly difficult to get a farmer in the field. Let’s make the changes needed to incentivize farming, and bring food security to Hawai’i Nei.
     "The (relatively) wealthy family farmer needs to be nurtured, supported and honored. When this is the case, we can grow the new agriculture paradigm and have the sustainable food production with regional food systems that stabilize local economies in rural areas all across the state. Food security will then be a reality. For now it is a dream, so let’s wake up and make it happen!" See more at www.hawaiifarmersunionunited.org.

FREE THANKSGIVING DINNER AT OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER drew about 250 people yesterday to enjoy the traditional meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles and a variety of desserts. Ocean View Community Association President Fortune Otter said that 30 volunteers put together the celebration, with many monetary and food donations. OVCA will host a Keiki Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.. with a visit from Santa Claus, food, gifts and activities. Free to all.

Ocean View Community Association President Fortune Otter with her father, son and
daughter at yesterday's Thanksgiving Dinner. Photo from OVCA
TODAY IS THE START OF THE ANNUAL VOLCANO VILLAGE ARTISTS HUI Studio Tour & Sale. The opportunity to visit artist studios and to purchase for the holidays is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artwork on sale represents a wide variety of media Maps are available at village businesses and at volcanovillageartistshui.com.

FRIENDS OF HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK hosts a holiday fundraiser tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1943 Pukeawe Circle, Volcano Golf Course, off Pi`i Mauna Drive. Featured are baked goodies and poinsettias.

THE ANNUAL KA`U FLOATING LANTERN CEREMONY is tomorrow at Punalu`u Beach Park from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to remember loved ones by decorating floating lanterns that are released into the waters of Punalu`u. Meet at the pavilions. Registration is available through Ka`u Rural Health Community Association, Inc. at 928-0101. 

A CRECHE FESTIVAL with more than 100 nativity scenes from around the world, is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Na`alehu Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints. The Ka`u Ward hosts the second annual islandwide event. The address is 95-5682 Mamalahoa Highway. Along with the crèche display, the event features live music performed by local musicians and choir and activities for children. Visitors are welcome to the free holiday festival. For more information, call ‪‪808-895-0491‬‬.  

MAILE MEDEIROS DAVID will be sworn in to represent Ka`u, Volcano and South Kona on the County Council on Monday at noon in Hilo at the Ah Fook Chinen Civic Auditorium. Mayor Billy Kenoi will be keynote speaker. The public is invited.

THE KA`U CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL MEETING & DINNER is next Thursday, Dec. 4 at Gilligan’s Restaurant in Discovery Harbour at 6 p.m. Dinner is $15 a person for pizza or spaghetti, salad and dessert. Beverages include beer, wine or soda. Money will be collected at the door. The public is invited to learn more abut The Chamber, which publishes The Directory for Ka‘u, provides scholarships for students from Ka‘u, hosts the annual art contest and selection for The Directory cover at CU Hawai`i Federal Credit Union in Na‘alehu, and assists in funding Ka‘u Food Pantry. Memberships with a listing in The Directory are $35 and will be accepted at the meeting.