Tourism professor develops agritourism app to engage visitors with state’s farming community

The purpose of the app is to help develop the capacity of agritourism in Hawai‘i by connecting visitors and residents to agricultural activities such as farm tours, farmers’ markets, agricultural festivals and events.

By Susan Enright

Five screenshots of pages in the app.
Screenshots from the Hawaii Farm Trails mobile app.

A professor of tourism at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, along with her sister and in conjunction with Kamehameha Schools, has developed a free mobile app giving the public information about statewide agritourism activities and local famers’ markets.

Two women pose for photo on voyaging canoe.
From left, sisters Angela Fa‘anunu and Kālisi Mausio. Courtesy photo.

Angela Fa‘anunu and her sister Kālisi Mausio, who together own and run a small farm in Pāhoehoe just north of Hilo, developed the Hawaii Farm Trails app to help keep farms in business. The first version of the app released last year was just for Hawai‘i Island, but the recent release expands coverage to the entire state.

The purpose of the app is to help develop the capacity of agritourism in Hawai‘i by connecting visitors and residents to agricultural activities such as farm tours, farmers’ markets, agricultural festivals and events. A recent media release about the new app says tourism is important to the profitability of small farms. “Keeping farms in business is the key to improving our food security and is the basis for our resilience as an island community.”

The recent app was developed in partnership with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), Hawai‘i Agritourism Association, GoFarm Hawai‘i, and Kamehameha Schools (KS). Funding was made possible through HTA and KS with a goal to reinvest in community partnerships to connect Hawai‘i’s agricultural industry with residents and visitors for educational and economic viability.

A portal to Hawai‘i agriculture

Users of the app can pick a region of the islands to find farms, ranches, farmers’ markets and agriculture and food-related events to explore. The app will connect users with the people and places that feed island communities, make value-added products, and are connected to the island through the land and its resources.

“There are kinks that still need to be fixed on the app but it’s now available in the Apple App store for download,” says Fa‘anunu.

According to the release, Hawai‘i agritourism gives residents and visitors a chance to look behind the scenes and experience small farms, rural communities, and natural beauty. The new app gives farms and agricultural businesses a platform to deliver local farming experiences to users.

The overall goal is to help increase local agriculture to create a more sustainable economy for Hawai‘i.

“What I love about agritourism is that it doesn’t necessarily impinge on Hawaiian culture,” Faʻanunu notes. “Every farm has its own unique story. We need to malama our host culture, and our tourism industry should be leading these initiatives.”

Angela Faanunu with ulu trees in background.
Angela Fa‘anunu on her farm in Pāhoehoe just north of Hilo. Courtesy photo.

Mālama Honua

Also within the app is an option to sponsor food trees as part of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s statewide food tree planting project that will occur as Hawai‘i’s traditional  voyaging canoe Hōkūlea prepares for its upcoming five-year Moananuiākea Voyage. The voyage will carry the message of Mālama Honua (care for our island Earth) that Hōkūlea continues to spread worldwide.

The sponsorship of a food tree through the Hawaii Farm Trails app provides a way for the public and organizations to support the planting of carbon-sequestering food trees on farms. The sponsored trees are given to farmers to care for and put the harvests back into Hawai‘i’s local food system.

Release of the app was timed with Earth Day on April 22.

 

Story by Susan Enright, 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.