New course at UH Hilo focuses on agricultural and food tourism

The course provides an overview of the rapidly growing international fields of agritourism and food tourism.

By Susan Enright.
This story is part of a series on new courses offered this semester.

Brooke Hansen
Brooke Hansen

A new course designed to help Hawai‘i move forward in local food production and tourism is being offered this semester at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The course on Agricultural and Food Tourism is covering the momentum of foodie movements—locavore, Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, farm-to-table, food festivals—to examine how they can support the flourishing tourist market.

Guiding the course are themes of sustainability, cultural respect and teaching people through the metaphors of “island as earth” and “we are all in one canoe.”

“The course is geared towards hearing from people who have already engaged with food and ag tourism and those who wish to,” says Kimberly “Brooke” Hansen, an adjunct faculty in anthropology who is teaching the course.

Guest speakers for the course include Audrey Wilson (acclaimed food writer), Tom Menezes (senior vice president of Hawaiian Crown), Pomai Weigert (Hawai‘i AgriTourism Association), Luisa Castro (master preserver and food safety expert), and Nancy Ginter-Miller (Produce to Product, Inc.).

“We tour local farms and foodie venues and explore multiple career paths from consulting and marketing to entrepreneurial opportunities in food and ag tourism,” explains Hansen.

The students in the course are an eclectic mix of traditional students exploring career options to non-traditional students who have experience farming crops such as avocados, mangoes and lychee.

The class also has Native Hawaiian students who want to embrace cultural tourism through food and heritage plants.

“Towards that end we will have a screening on March 6 of the acclaimed film Sons of Hālawa, about a family on Molokai who revitalized their relations with culture and land through a sustainable tourism enterprise,” says Hansen.

AG 194 Agricultural and Food Tourism

Course description:

The course provides an overview of the rapidly growing international fields of agritourism and food tourism from interdisciplinary academic approaches. With tourism as a major economic driver in many areas of the world, the exploration of markets for local and global tourism is paramount, especially those that intersect with popular food movements such as “farm to table,” “locavore,” “nose to tail,” street food tours, and locally HRC (Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine).

Sustainability, local culture and the promotion of self, society and planet are notable themes and marketing strategies. We will survey the global scope and local potential of these phenomena and examine trends, media influences, markets and marketing, logistics and regulations, value added product development, stakeholders, innovative partnerships and employment opportunities.

Specific areas covered include farm tours, food festivals, food trucks, farmers’ markets and agritourism associations.

Brooke Hansen

Hansen is an anthropologist with specialties in food, tourism, sustainability, integrative health, indigenous studies and experiential learning.

“I have been teaching edutourism and service learning on the Big Island since 1999 with a focus on kānaka maoli culture and revitalization,” she says.

Those classes were offered during winter intersession at Ithaca College, where she taught for 18 years before relocating to Hawai‘i last year to spend full time on research and revitalization efforts with local communities.

At UH Hilo, she currently serves on the Sustainability Committee and the Blue Zones Committee and holds two teaching posts: affiliate associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and lecturer in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management.


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

Other stories in this series on new courses: