The course explores how Hawai‘i can move forward by integrating the rise in tourism, the interest of farmers to diversify, new markets, and the wildly popular foodie movements.
Brooke Hansen, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is piloting a new agriculture course this semester geared toward the rapidly growing field of agritourism: Agricultural and Food Tourism (AG 194). The course explores how Hawai‘i can move forward by tapping into and integrating the rise in tourism, the interest by farmers to diversify and explore new markets and the wildly popular foodie movements (farm-to-table, locavore, Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, food festivals, etc.).
Mikey Peirron’s Hilo UrbFarm is a small composting and food garden operation, located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.
By Edward Bufil.
Looking at a package of basil from Maui, a revelation hit Mikey Pierron: why is Hawai‘i island not food sustainable? This revelation gave rise to Hilo UrbFarm, a small composting and food garden operation, located at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.
Composting is a key practice in island sustainability. Hilo UrbFarm develops compost from paper wastes, mulch (from the County Greenwaste facility), and food scraps from local vendors including the Locavore store, Conscious Culture Café, Hilo Sharks Coffee, and Loved by the Sun. By taking greenwaste that would otherwise be added to the near-capacity landfill, Hilo UrbFarm produces compost that will aid the growth of a variety of food crops.
Hilo UrbFarm also grows a variety of herbs and food crops.
In order to be competitive one needs to be farming at an economy of scale and price point differentials that work, particularly when the competition is imported from continent based mega-farms.
By Bruce Mathews.
While there have been calls for at least 50 years for the state of Hawaiʻi to improve its food self-sufficiency and hence food security, the progress to reduce dependence on imports has been painfully slow. This being said, community interest in increasing locally grown food is rapidly expanding. However, interest alone will not be sufficient to turn the dial substantially without major changes in consumer behavior or extreme market distortions.
Economies of scale
In order to be competitive one needs to be farming at an economy of scale and price point differentials that work, particularly when the competition is imported from continent based mega-farms. Even in Hawaiʻi the entrepreneurial produce farmer success stories that are most often mentioned tend to be on the larger side. It takes a unique mix of entrepreneurial skills, hard work, and capital access to make a decent middle class living let alone a small fortune as a family farmer. Locally grown produce may become more competitive as continental growers deal with increasing water costs and climate change.
To learn about the Philippines, one has to learn about its agriculture, a huge part of the Filipino culture.
The Filipino Studies Certificate program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is perhaps the only Filipino studies program in the U.S. that integrates sustainable agriculture into its curriculum. Rodney Jubilado, assistant professor of Filipino and coordinator of the certificate program, stresses that in order to learn about the Philippines, one has to learn about its agriculture, which is a huge part of the Filipino culture.
“The focus here is the Philippines, which is an agricultural country” says Jubilado, whose family in the Philippines owns a farm that grows coffee, coconut and cacao.
Jubilado is a prolific writer and researcher and has shared his articles in numerous venues such as international conferences in various countries in Asia, Australia, and America. He is well published in international journals, edited academic journals, books, and manuscripts, supervised graduate and doctoral students, and is a member of professional organizations of his field and allied disciplines.
There is presently a disconnect between the economic reality of Hawai‘i’s working farmers, educators, and the well-intentioned sustainability and food sovereignty idealism of governmental leaders, politicians, and community activists.
At most community agricultural meetings in Hawaiʻi, there are candid discussions regarding the growth and development constraints faced by the smallholder crop and livestock sectors. These discussions revolve around strong import competition from large continental-based operations, heavy dependence on imported energy and nutrient inputs for our farms, and a myriad of challenges associated with lease land, access to water and adequate infrastructure, labor constraints, lack of applied research and extension outreach, marketing, ability to comply with regulations, access to promising new cultivars, security, building equity, and sufficient financing.
A move to Organic and Organic Plus strategies in food production is how Hawai‘i food producers take back the power of the Hawai‘i brand.
By Joshua Willing, Student, AG100, Introduction to Agricultural Sciences.
Food production in Hawai‘i sits in the middle of a great paradox, at once a lush natural paradise with a perfect climate for growing things, yet isolated, leading to inflated costs for Hawaii’s producers. The future of the Hawai‘i food industry will depend on producers’ ability to navigate a way that respects these inherent costs while utilizing the many benefits of the islands. Producers must decide on a model that best suits the economy.
My argument here is that this model already exists, and by using branding–in this case the brand of Hawai‘i itself–we will mitigate many unavoidable costs while at the same time enhancing the desirability of Hawai‘i’s food products. This will rely heavily on the Hawai‘i food industry as a whole moving toward an “Organic Plus” strategy (going beyond current organic standards), the goals of which coincide nicely with the natural boons of Hawai‘i’s food production.
Each semester, the class helps clean up a fruit and vegetable garden at the Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha.
By Juan Avellaneda, Student, Agriculture.
Have you heard about the sustainable agriculture course (Ag230) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo? This course offers community outreach, sustainable practices, and the experience of designing your very own sustainable garden. The course is taught by Norman Arancon, associate professor of horticulture. Students in the course are separated into groups and are assigned different areas on the UH Hilo campus, where they get to plant, grow, and harvest their own food.
This article will give you an insight on one of the field trips taken in the course last fall. In this community outreach field trip, the class helped clean up a fruit and vegetable garden at the Malia Puka O Kalani Catholic Church in Keaukaha.