While Maui is not Food Sustainable at this time, it has been in the past and can be again. My view begins 10 years ago when Greenleaf Farm began selling our locally grown produce and products at the Eddie Tam market. From the oral history that I learned as a vendor from Farmers Herb and Debbie May, the Upcountry Market had been established nearly 30 years ago (Wayne Nashiki was a founding member). During that time period there was very little growth. The market had fewer than 10 farmers, weekly selling to a relatively small group of customers.
Fast forward to 2015 and the Upcountry Farmers Market, has 5 to 10 times as many vendors, with 700 hundred plus customers. At the same time an all local/organic market has been established as the Wednesday Market at Waipuna Chapel with a growing group of local farmers and customers. The growth in the two Upcountry markets is a contagious experience for the customers and vendors. The growth in customers is clearly supporting farmers to grow more food, thus moving us closer to food sustainability.
Another positive sign towards food sustainability has been the evolution of HFUU Maui Chapters. Farmers Union (HFUU) began in Hawaii about 5 years ago and has become the recognized voice for developing a thriving local agriculture sector on Maui. The brightest news from Farmers Union is the FAM (Farm Apprentice Mentoring) program which has a goal to ‘Grow’ 100 Farmers on Maui in 6 years. Check out the HFUU FAM program www.facebook.com/mauifamprogram and/or sign up for the HFUU newsletter www.mauifarmershaleakala.com/ For those that can afford the $50 membership fee, joining HFUU is another positive action step that supports the organization committed to moving Hawaii to Food Sustainability. http://hfuuhi.org/join-hfu/
Personally, at Greenleaf Farm, we have expanded our production and outreach. We now grow food for sale at the Wednesday Market at Waipuna Chapel, sell to Mana Foods and offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes that we deliver. Customers that commit to purchasing a weekly box gain value as the farmer can better forecast production when food is pre sold.
Let’s grow together. Find your local Farmers Market, choose to buy local produce at the supermarket, seek out a farm and buy directly, get inspired and grow your own (which can start as small as a growing herbs in a pot on the windowsill).
It took nearly 75 years to develop our current level of food insecurity… we have awakened to our needs and by working together, we will transform Maui into the Food Abundant Paradise that we all know is possible.
Image Credit: Greenleaf Farms