Category Archives: The New Ahupua‘a

The New Ahupuaa, Revisited

Richard Ha writes:

This is a post I wrote back in 2007. I recently reread it and realized it's the same story as what's happening today. It's six years later, and people still don't realize we don't have time to fool around.

I'm going to rerun the post here.

***

October 10, 2007

I spoke at the Hawai‘i Island Food Summit this past weekend, which was attended by Hawaiian cultural people, policy makers, university researchers, farmers, ranchers, and others.

The two-day conference asked the question, “How Can Hawai‘i Feed Itself?”

I felt like a small kid in class with his hand raised: “Call me! Call me!”

I sat on one of the panels, and said that our sustainability philosophy has to do with taking a long-term view of things. We are always moving so we’ll be in the proper position for the environment we anticipate five, 10 and 20 years from now.

I told them I had a nightmare that there would be a big meeting down by the pier one day, where they announce that food supplies were short because the oil supply was short and so we would have to send thousands of people out to discover new land.

I was afraid that they would send all the people with white hair out on the boats to find new land—all the Grandmas and Grandpas and me, but maybe not June.

Grandmas and Grandpas hobbled onto the boats with their canes and their wheelchairs, clutching all their medicines, and everybody gave all of us flower leis, and everyone was saying, “Aloha, Aloha, call us when you find land! Aloha!”

I spoke about where we want to be in five, 10 or 20 years. We know that energy-related costs will be high then. And that we need to provide food for Hawai‘i’s people.

We call our plan “The New Ahupua‘a.”

In old Hawai‘i, the ahupua‘a was a land division that stretched from the uplands to the sea, and it contained the resources necessary to support its human population—from fish and salt to fertile land for farming and, high up, wood for building, as well as much more.

Our “New Ahupua‘a” uses old knowledge along with modern technology to make the best use of our own land system and resources. We will move forward by looking backward.

• We plan to decouple ourselves from fossil fuel costs by developing a hydroelectric plant, which will allow us to grow various crops not normally grown at our location.

• We are moving toward a “village” concept of farming, and starting to include farmers from the area, who grow things we don’t, to farm with us. This way, the people who work on our farm come from the area around our farm. We will help them with food safety, pest control issues and distribution.

• We are developing a farmers market at our property on the highway, where the farmers who work with us can market their products.

• We will utilize as much of our own resources for fertilizer as possible, by developing a system of aquaponics, etc.

This “New Ahupua‘a” is our general framework for the future. It will allow us to produce more food than we can produce by ourselves. It is a safe strategy, in case the worst scenario happens; if it doesn’t, this plan will not hurt us.

It is a simple strategy. And we are committed to it.

My assessment of how we came to be here and where we need to be in the future is this: In the beginning, one hundred percent of the energy for food came from the sun. The mastodons ate leaves, the saber tooth tiger ate the mastodon and we ate the tiger and everything else.

The earth’s population was related to the amount of food we could gather or catch. And sometimes the food caught and ate us. So there were only so many of us roaming around.

Then some of us started to use horses and mules to help us grow food. As well as the sun, now animals provided some of the energy for cultivating food. We were able to grow more food, and so there were more of us.

About 150 years ago, we discovered oil. With oil we could utilize millions of horsepower to grow food—and we didn’t even need horses. Oil was plentiful and cheap; only about $3/barrel. We used oil to manufacture fertilizer, chemicals and for packaging and transportation.

Food became very, very plentiful and we started going to supermarkets to harvest and hunt for our food. Hunting for our food at the supermarkets was very good—the food did not eat us and now there are many, many, many of us.

But now we are approaching another change to the status quo—a situation being called “Peak Oil.” That’s when half of all the oil in existence is used up. Half the oil will still be left, but it will be increasingly hard to tap. At some point, the demand for oil—by billions and billions of people who cannot wait to get in their car and drive to McDonalds—will exceed the ability to pump that oil.

Food was cheap in the past because oil was cheap. Five years ago, oil was $30/barrel but now it’s over $80/barrel. Now that oil is becoming more and more expensive, food is also going to become much more expensive.

In the beginning the sun provided a hundred percent of the energy and it was free. Today oil is becoming very expensive, but sun energy is still free.  The wind, the waves, the water—they are all free here in Hawaii. It’s the oil that is expensive.

For Hamakua Springs, the situation is not complicated at all. We need to use an alternate form of energy to help us grow food!

With alternate energy, we should be able to continue growing food—and maybe local food can be grown cheaper than food that is shipped here from far away.

I told the Food Summit attendees that we farmers need to grow plenty of food so that others can do what they do and so we continue to have a vibrant society. If we don’t plan ahead to provide enough food, and as a consequence every family has to return to farming to feed themselves, it would be a much more limited society. People would not be able to pursue the arts, write books, explore space. We would have way fewer choices – maybe only, “What color malo should I wear today?”

There was a feeling going through the Food Summit’s crowd that we were a part of something very important and very special. What I found different about this conference is that people left feeling that this was just the beginning.

We are going to take action.

***

Facebooktwittermail

Time Travel: Looking Back At Our Land

Richard Ha writes:

We’re planning to landscape the area around our new hydroelectric system with canoe plants, the plants that the first Polynesian settlers brought with them from their previous island homes to help them survive and thrive in their new land.

They were the original organic farmers. They had no oil back
then, of course, so no oil technologies.

And they did not just survive in their oil-free lives, but thrived and supported a large population here well (research suggests it was a
population as large as we have now).

So as we reach the age of Peak Oil, the end of easy and cheap oil and all that came with that, I want to explore how they did it. I
want to learn from them and see what, from those times, we can focus on again to improve our lives now. Our hydroelectric system is another example of what we are doing in these regards.

There are still people, of course, who have always lived
with the old ways, and who continue to do so. I met some people at the Hawai‘i Community College who are perpetuating this culture and who have offered to help me. I’ll write more about that soon.

For now I thought I’d revisit what we know happened on this
land before we started farming it. A lot of this information comes from the Cultural Resources Review of our poperty done by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 2.35.05 PM

Our farm encompasses three ahupua‘a in the district of South Hilo:

1. Ka‘upakuea at the north (bordered at the south by Makea Stream).

We don’t know much about what went on in Ka‘upakuea before the mid-19th century. In the mid-1800s, both Ka‘upakuea and Kahua were government lands, which were lands Kamehameha III gave “to the chiefs and people.” Ka‘upakuea was part of Grant 872. (Read the 1882 document A Brief History of Land Titles in the Hawaiian Kingdom for more on Hawai‘i’s historical land system.)

The area was later part of a sugar plantation, and has unpaved roadways and a west-east flume. Kaupakuea Camp was within the area of what’s presently our farm.

2. Kahua (which is between Makea and Alia Streams).

Kahua is a very narrow ahupua‘a, approximately 600 feet wide. It extends from the coast to about Makea Spring, which is at about the 980 foot elevation.

Kahonu (an ali‘i who was descended from both the I and Mahi
lines of chiefs, and who was in charge of the Fort at Punchbowl ca. 1833-34) was awarded either the whole of Kahua ahupua‘a or just the northern mauka half of it (references differ) as LCA 5663.

When he died in 1851, his relative Abner Paki (father of
Bernice Pauahi and hanai father of Lili‘uokalani) held the lands “under a verbal will from Kahonu” (Barrère 1994:138). When Paki died in 1855, the lands were listed as Bishop Estate lands.

3. Makahanaloa at its southern edge (bordered by Alia and Wai‘a‘ama Streams).

The ahupua‘a of Makahanaloa (Maka-hana-loa) runs from the coast about 3.5 miles up to the 6600-foot elevation. Kapue Stream flows from the base of Pu‘u Kahinahina down through Makahanaloa. Magnetic Hill is at the southwestern corner at the top of the ahupua‘a, which is a little over a mile wide and meets the North Hilo district boundary.

In the Great Mahele of 1848, 7600 acres of Makahanaloa and
Pepe‘ekeo were awarded to William Charles Lunalilo (an ali‘i who later became king, from 1873 until his death in 1874). Upon his death, his personal property went to his father Charles Kana‘ina.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about Makahanaloa
ahupua‘a: Somewhere within this area, though the exact location is unknown, there was (is?) an “ancient leaping place for souls.”

And according to historian Mary Kawena Pūku‘i, a sacred bamboo grove called Hōmaika‘ohe was planted at Makahanaloa by the god Kane. “Bamboo knifes used for circumcision came from this grove,” she wrote.

Sugar Plantation History

Sugar cane was one of the canoe plants; it came with the early Polynesians to Hawai‘i and they used it as food and sweetener, and chewed it to strengthen their teeth and gums.

The farm sits on land that was formerly part of a sugar plantation that had its origins in 1857, when Theophilus Metcalf started Metcalf Plantation. After his death in 1874, the 1500-acre plantation was purchased by Mr. Afong and Mr. Achuck and its name changed to Pepeekeo Sugar Company. In 1879, they also acquired the 7600-acre Makahaula Plantation. By 1882, both were combined as Pepeekeo Sugar Mill & Plantation. In 1889, Afong returned to China, leaving the plantation in the hands of his friend Samuel M. Damon.

Over the years, it changed hands several more times. C. Brewer
& Co. bought the plantation in 1904, added a plantation hospital and improved housing. By 1910, plantation fields were connected by good dirt roads and harvested cane was delivered to the mill by railroad cars and stationary flumes.

Post-1923, the plantation improved its soil every year by adding coral sand (from Wai‘anae), bone meal and guano. “The sand was bagged and hauled into the fields by mules to be spread” (Dorrance & Morgan 2000:101). Eucalyptus trees were planted as windbreaks, protecting the fields near the ‘ōhi‘a forests.

Water came from Wai‘a‘ama Stream and Kauku Hill.
 Plowing was
done to 18 to 20 inches. After 1932, tractors with caterpillar tracks were used for plowing. From 1941, trucks hauled harvested cane to the mill.

In the early 1950s, lots and houses on the plantation were sold to residents.

Under C. Brewer, there were several mergers: Honomu Sugar Company in 1946; Hakalau Sugar Company in 1963; consolidation of Wainaku, Hakalau, Pepeekeo, and Papaikou sugar companies in 1971, and a final merger in 1973 with Mauna Kea Sugar (once 5 separate plantations: Honomu, Hakalau, Pepeekeo, Onomea and Hilo Sugar Company) to form Mauna Kea Sugar Company, the state’s largest with 18,000 acres of cane (Dorrance & Morgan 2000:104).

Prior to the final merger, Mauna Kea Sugar Company had formed
a non-profit corporation with the United Cane Planters’ Cooperative, the Hilo Coast Processing Company, to harvest and grind sugarcane.

The Hilo Coast Processing Company and the Mauna Kea Sugar
Company (at that point called Mauna Kea Agribusiness Company) mill shut down in 1994.

We started farming on this land in 1994.

I’m very interested in knowing more history about this place. If you or your family know old stories about this area, I would love to hear them.

Facebooktwittermail

Room With a View

Richard Ha writes:

This is the view from my “office” window.

View

I took it from the air-conditioned cab of my bulldozer, where I can even charge my iPhone. I was on a conference call yesterday while I was in the middle of clearing some brush that we are going to replace with something more productive. Not bad, huh?
Bamboo

We’re busy putting our marginal lands into production. While we’re at it, we need to provide safety barriers using dual-use plants and trees. We need to protect the streams by preventing erosion and runoff over the long term. If we can accomplish this with plants that provide food, so much the better.

On the land surrounding the hydro generator, we want to highlight the modern and the ancient. The hydro generator represents the modern, and the plants the Polynesian navigators brought with them in their canoes are of particular interest to me.

Being a banana farmer, I am familiar with the cooking bananas, the mai‘a maoli and the mai‘a popoulu. The mai‘a maoli produced a large, heavy bunch. I remember thinking, I would have put that in the canoe as well. The mai‘a popoulu was probably a backup. It was susceptible to wind and not very strong, relative to competition from grasses, etc.

Anybody have those varieties? I don’t see them aroundanymore. They succumbed to the fusarium wilt, like the Bluefield bananas did in the 50s. That caused the world banana trade to shift to the Cavendish type of banana, which are starting to succumb to another race of the fusarium wilt. That is the biggest threat overhanging the world banana industry today.

More pictures from my bulldozer. That’s bamboo in the distance. It’s less than three years old, and I’m guessing it’s 60-plus feet tall and 5 feet in diameter now. That’s with only two applications of fertilizer.

We have ‘opae in this healthy stream on our farm.

All the rose apple trees on Wai‘a‘ama Stream succumbed to a fungus a short time ago. We are going to plant other trees here, which will keep invasive species down and also help to keep the river cool.

This soil was fallow after a banana crop, and as I was walking along I saw earthworms. Healthy soil.

(I videotaped an earthworm!)

I am fascinated by our Hawaiian ancestors’ ability to survive, well, in a world without draft animals and metals.

I’m planning to write more about all this from a farmer’s point of view.

Facebooktwittermail

Answer: Bamboo

Here’s the question:

What is it that can

  • maximize the usage of the land
  • provide windbreak protection
  • shade out invasive species
  • cool off the streams
  • and provide food?

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-4-45-45-pmThere are many varieties of bamboo. We’ve been looking for the kinds with shoots that are good to eat, in addition to providing all the other benefits.

Picture 2
Picture 3

June and I went to Quindembo Bamboo Nursery this weekend and came back with my pickup truck full of bamboo. I want to maximize food production here on the farm, so we will plant bamboo on the south sides of the streams. That way the shadow will fall on the stream, keeping it cool and shading out pest plants. We’ll leave enough room so we can still access the stream banks. We want to reclaim all the stream banks on the whole property. This will be a fun project and there is a lot of land to cover.

Picture 4

Since this will be on non-producing land, it will increase the property’s productivity. June points out that no matter what we end up doing with the bamboo, we can certainly give it to our workers for food.

Picture 5

Facebooktwittermail

Kahua Ahupua‘a

The last few days, I’ve been focusing on Kahua Ahupua‘a. Of the three ahupua‘a that comprise Hamakua Springs Country Farms, I find this one the most interesting.

Within 600 feet there are two streams: Makea on the north boundary, and Ali‘a on the south. Between the streams is a ridgeline, maybe 75 to 100 feet from stream level, and running on the ridgeline from mauka to makai is a cane haul road.

It has a clear view of both Mauna Kea and the ocean, as well as of the greenhouses in the valley facing north, toward Honoka’a, and the banana fields facing south, toward Hilo. June and I plan to eventually build a house there. We just submitted a plan to the County in order to subdivide.

Yesterday I spent several hours on the bulldozer, reopening old roads and clearing access to the streams. Today I spent time knocking down many, many 20-foot albizia trees, and making sure the roots were completely pulled out of the ground. There’s one giant albizia tree that is even larger than the ones in this picture. The base is at least 10 feet around and the tree is easily 100 feet tall with many giant side branches. That’s where the seeds for the others are coming from.

I wonder how I’ll get rid of it. Cutting it down is just unimaginable. Here is how they cut a tree down at Lyons Arboretum.

Here is an easier way, with a drill and injecting.

The whole time on the bulldozer, I was thinking about how I can situate some hydroponic hoop houses that would allow us to capture fertilizer runoff, grow algae and raise tilapia. I would get the water further upstream, at a higher elevation, and then run it to the hydroponic hoop houses and use the excess fertilizer to grow algae and then, further downstream, send it to the tilapia. Gravity and free water are our friends.

I am going to grow algae for fuel. Not for cars, but to grow tilapia. Food fuel. The hydroelectric project is close by.

I’m also thinking of making a place to just sit and listen to the stream. I wonder where I can get hapu‘u? Where would kukui nut trees go? Lauhala? Ulu? Hmmm.

This is going to be a big, long project. I’ll write about it as I go along.

Facebooktwittermail

Ahupua‘a, Old & New

The farm recently received information about a Farm Conservation Plan grant. It’s a grant that is awarded by the Natural Resource Defense Council just every eight years, and Richard says it was completely unexpected when they were asked to apply.

“It’s rewarded based on past practices,” explains Richard. “They’re trying to reward people who’ve been doing it right, in terms of avoiding erosion and employing best environmental practices. This grant comes around every eight years, and it came out of the blue because the Hilo watershed had not participated in this program before.”

The farm also recently applied for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program 2009, which falls under the federal Wildlife Habitat Management program. This program promotes agricultural production and environment quality as compatible goals. Some of the identified natural resource concerns are: at-risk species habitat, sedimentation and accelerated erosion and ground and surface water conservation.

“This grant is to bring the streams back,” says Richard, “to reforest them. Basically they want you to bring it back up to where it was. We have all these non-native plants, and we’re going to take them out and replant with the appropriate, native ones. We’re going to clean up the area and take it back to where it was originally.”

It’s an extensive project, and an exciting one.

Part of this process has been a “Cultural Resources Review,” which was done by the local Natural Resource Defense Council. It starts out with some interesting historical and cultural information we didn’t know:

The proposed project area is 579 acres within three ahupua‘a: Kaupakuea, Kahua and Makahanaloa (north to south) in South Hilo.

Richard is excited to know these details about the traditional land divisions, or ahupua‘a. Me, too. Here he’s been talking about creating The New Ahupua‘a, and we find we actually have some information about the old ahupua’a!

From the report:

Kaupakuea is the northernmost ahupua‘a. Its southern boundary is Makea Stream…It extends from the coast up to the above Kaupakuea Homesteads at about 1400/1500 foot elevation…. Evidence of previous plantation use of the area can be seen in the unpaved roadways, and a west-east flume in parcel 01. The project is also within what was once Grant 872.

Kaupakuea is the side of the farm that has all the greenhouses, the packing house and all the structures.

Kahua is a very narrow ahupua‘a, extending only between Makea Stream to the north to Alia Stream to the south, approximately 600 feet wide although it extends from the coast to about Makea Spring, which is at about the 980 foot elevation, upslope of the project area….

Kahua seems to be a natural place to plant assorted fruit trees. The sloping terrain lends itself to a cropping system that doesn’t require constant tractor cultivation.

Richard says this land between the two streams has always been his favorite part of the property. “How often do you get two streams so close together,” he says, “just naturally? There’s a big hill in between them. It’s not suitable for flat-land farming. It’s hard to figure out why it’s there. You just have a feeling that it’s special.”

Kahonu received 52.20 acres as LCA 5663 in the northern mauka half of Kahua in the project area….Kahonu was an ali‘i, a chief, a descendant through both the ‘I and Mahi lines, who was in charge of the Fort at Punchbowl ca. 1833-34 (Barrere 1994:139). After his death in 1851, Abner Paki, a relative, held the lands [in Kahua] “under a verbal will from Kahonu” (Barrere 1994:138). At Paki’s death in 1855, “these lands were now listed as Bishop Estate lands” (Barrere 1994:515). Abner Paki and Konia were the parents of Bernice Pauahi and hanai parents of [Queen Lydia] Liliuokalani (Barrere 1994:515).

Kahua and Kaupakuea were listed as government lands (Indices 1929:30, 32). Government lands were lands Kamehameha III gave “to the chiefs and people” (Chinen 1958:26). By surrendering a large portion of his reserved lands to the government, Kamehameha III disposed of the question of his payment of commutation to the government (Chinen 1958:27). “From time to time portions of the Government Lands were sold as a means of obtaining revenue to meet the increasing costs of the Government. Purchasers of these lands were issued documents called ‘Grants’ or ‘Royal Patent Grants…” (Chinen 1958:27).

Makahanaloa ahupua‘a extends from the coast all the way up to about the 6600 foot elevation, a distance of about 3.4 miles….7600 acres of Makahanaloa and Pepekeo (sic) ahupua‘a were awarded to William Charles Lunalilo as LCA 8559-B: 17 &b 18 in the Great Mahele of 1848….Within Makahanaloa was “an ancient leaping place for souls. A sacred bamboo grove called Homaika‘ohe was planted here by the god Kane; bamboo knives used for circumcision came from his grove” (Pukui et al 1981:139). Locations of these sites are unknown.

The review also provides some history of the sugar plantations in the area of what is now Hamakua Springs Country Farms.

1857 – Theophilus Metcalf started Metcalf Plantation.
1874 – Afong and Achuck purchased Metcalf Plantation and changed the name to Pepe‘ekeo Sugar Company.
1879 – Afong and Achuck acquired Makahaula Plantation, adding 7600 acres to the south.
1882 – These were combined as Pepe‘ekeo Sugar Mill & Plantation.
1889 – Afong returned to China and left the plantations in the hands of his friend Samuel M. Damon.

The overview continues with changes of hands as the plantation land passed through Hackfeld & Company, Alexander Young and, in 1904, C. Brewer and Co. It gives some history through the closing of what had become Mauna Kea Agribusiness Co. in 1994.

Richard says this newly acquired information about the ahupua‘a come down to it being a framework. “A couple years ago we started feeling we needed to get closer to the culture,” he says. “We ended up working with, for example, the TMT, Keaukaha School, and it became a real thing. We started calling it the ‘New Ahupua‘a,’ and it was kind of neat. We had this kind of flat land over here, and that kind of hilly land over there.

“But all of the sudden now there are names!” he says. “Everything’s starting to become clear. It’s kind of exciting. It’s a framework to work in. Now we’re going to take action.”

“It’s still all about feeding people, basically. That’s what we’re up to.”

Facebooktwittermail

The New Ahupua‘a

I spoke at the Hawai‘i Island Food Summit this past weekend, which was attended by Hawaiian cultural people, policy makers, university researchers, farmers, ranchers, and others.

The two-day conference asked the question, “How Can Hawai‘i Feed Itself?”

I felt like a small kid in class with his hand raised: “Call me! Call me!”

I sat on one of the panels, and said that our sustainability philosophy has to do with taking a long-term view of things. We are always moving so we’ll be in the proper position for the environment we anticipate five, 10 and 20 years from now.

**

I told them I had a nightmare that there would be a big meeting down by the pier one day, where they announce that food supplies were short because the oil supply was short and so we would have to send thousands of people out to discover new land.

I was afraid that they would send all the people with white hair out on the boats to find new land—all the Grandmas and Grandpas and me, but maybe not June.

Grandmas and Grandpas hobbled onto the boats with their canes and their wheelchairs, clutching all their medicines, and everybody gave all of us flower leis, and everyone was saying, “Aloha, Aloha, call us when you find land! Aloha!”

**

I spoke about where we want to be in five, 10 or 20 years. We know that energy-related costs will be high then. And that we need to provide food for Hawai‘i’s people.

We call our plan “The New Ahupua‘a.”

In old Hawai‘i, the ahupua‘a was a land division that stretched from the uplands to the sea, and it contained the resources necessary to support its human population—from fish and salt to fertile land for farming and, high up, wood for building, as well as much more.

Our “New Ahupua‘a” uses old knowledge along with modern technology to make the best use of our own land system and resources. We will move forward by looking backward.

• We plan to decouple ourselves from fossil fuel costs by developing a hydroelectric plant, which will allow us to grow various crops not normally grown at our location.

• We are moving toward a “village” concept of farming, and starting to include farmers from the area, who grow things we don’t, to farm with us. This way, the people who work on our farm come from the area around our farm. We will help them with food safety, pest control issues and distribution.

• We are developing a farmers market at our property on the highway, where the farmers who work with us can market their products.

• We will utilize as much of our own resources for fertilizer as possible, by developing a system of aquaponics, etc.

This “New Ahupua‘a” is our general framework for the future. It will allow us to produce more food than we can produce by ourselves. It is a safe strategy, in case the worst scenario happens; if it doesn’t, this plan will not hurt us.

It is a simple strategy. And we are committed to it.

**

My assessment of how we came to be here and where we need to be in the future is this: In the beginning, one hundred percent of the energy for food came from the sun. The mastodons ate leaves, the saber tooth tiger ate the mastodon and we ate the tiger and everything else.

The earth’s population was related to the amount of food we could gather or catch. And sometimes the food caught and ate us. So there were only so many of us roaming around.

Then some of us started to use horses and mules to help us grow food. As well as the sun, now animals provided some of the energy for cultivating food. We were able to grow more food, and so there were more of us.

About 150 years ago, we discovered oil. With oil we could utilize millions of horsepower to grow food—and we didn’t even need horses. Oil was plentiful and cheap; only about $3/barrel. We used oil to manufacture fertilizer, chemicals and for packaging and transportation.

Food became very, very plentiful and we started going to supermarkets to harvest and hunt for our food. Hunting for our food at the supermarkets was very good—the food did not eat us and now there are many, many, many of us.

But now we are approaching another change to the status quo—a situation being called “Peak Oil.” That’s when half of all the oil in existence is used up. Half the oil will still be left, but it will be increasingly hard to tap. At some point, the demand for oil—by billions and billions of people who cannot wait to get in their car and drive to McDonalds—will exceed the ability to pump that oil.

Food was cheap in the past because oil was cheap. Five years ago, oil was $30/barrel but now it’s over $80/barrel. Now that oil is becoming more and more expensive, food is also going to become much more expensive.

In the beginning the sun provided a hundred percent of the energy and it was free. Today oil is becoming very expensive, but sun energy is still free.  The wind, the waves, the water—they are all free here in Hawaii. It’s the oil that is expensive.

For Hamakua Springs, the situation is not complicated at all. We need to use an alternate form of energy to help us grow food!

With alternate energy, we should be able to continue growing food—and maybe local food can be grown cheaper than food that is shipped here from far away.

I told the Food Summit attendees that we farmers need to grow plenty of food so that others can do what they do and so we continue to have a vibrant society. If we don’t plan ahead to provide enough food, and as a consequence every family has to return to farming to feed themselves, it would be a much more limited society. People would not be able to pursue the arts, write books, explore space. We would have way fewer choices – maybe only, “What color malo should I wear today?”

**

Some of the speakers from the conference were videotaped and are up on the Kohala Center’s webcast, if you’d like to listen.

There is also an online slideshow of photos from the Food Summit.

There was a feeling going through the Food Summit’s crowd that we were a part of something very important and very special. What I found different about this conference is that people left feeling that this was just the beginning.

We are going to take action.

Facebooktwittermail