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Sugar’s Funeral and An Open Letter……

An open letter to Alexander & Baldwin Hawaii:

This week, after 146 years of sugar production, the last sugar mill has closed. The time of large-scale sugar production has faded with history. The cheap access to water and the virtual perfect growing conditions in Hawaii was no match for cheap labor and lower production costs in other countries.

This closing wasn’t sudden, nor was it a surprise. We’ve been talking for years how our agricultural system has been broken.

It’s important to note, the movement we have seen recently in politics and environmental literacy is happening in agriculture.  Communities and conscientious groups, such as the millenials, are requesting transparency away from big business that disregards the impact on people and the planet.

I have attended many food conferences with leaders in the ag and food industries over the past two years that have identified both the pro’s and cons of large-scale agriculture. When lower production costs, resulting from irresponsible labor conditions being the driving factor, there is nothing benevolent about old-school, large-scale ag.

Today’s emerging markets value people over profits. We are interested in how food is grown and what the nutrition benefits are to what we are consuming. Yes, we are smarter in our consumption and asking more questions. Convenience is not the single driving factor as it once was.

The expiration date on the exploitation of nature has expired.  The new paradigm is a partnership with nature.

We are learning the hard lessons of how the practices of big business provides little regard for people and the planet. Growing food (or experimental seed on food-growing lands) for export isn’t the best idea for the most isolated islands in the world.

Tapping into Hawaii’s rich agricultural lineage is the imperative in consumerism’s sea of change.

The recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was held in Hawaii for a reason. This worldwide conference was a spotlight on Hawaii as an island model central to the Pacific Rim, the fastest growing region in the global economy. Hawaii is poised as a leader in conservation with best practices in sustainability as drafted in the Aloha + Challenge 2030. Learn more here.

These challenges are some of the most progressive in the United States.

Hawaii has set the goal of doubling its locally-produced food supply by 2030. Achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045 is a top priority for Hawaii and one of the most aggressive energy goals in the United States.

The challenges we face as an island bring many opportunities. Endings bring new beginnings.

This ending for sugar includes 36,000 acres of land that will be fallow next month.*

Alexander & Baldwin: I wonder if….

  • What if these lands could be sectioned out for small, shared farms with several plots for diversified food growing? The money saved on a food budget when growing your own food is not to be dismissed.

  • What if these lands could be regenerated using multipurpose crops such as hemp, legumes, canoe plants and other methods of  agroforestry?

  • What is some of these cover crops and multi-purpose crops actually doubled as green fertilizer and assisted in pest management?

  • What if we consulted several experts knowledgeable in sustainable growing strategies such as biodynamic, permaculture and regenerative practices?  These strategies are time tested, proven methods for reducing costs on inputs for pest management while multi-purpose crops offers benefits of increasing farm revenue and soil health.

It’s evident our conducting business as usual is out of step with the conscientious food and consumer movement growing rapidly through social media and other viral media.

Young people don’t want to farm…..

Not many people these days really want to work the earth, you know?

-Maui Rep. Joe Souki

 

With all due respect Mr. Souki, the conscientious food movements in agriculture include our influential millenials, mommy bloggers, families and this generation of change makers.

"The movement has begun.  You know us, we are the members of your family, your friends, and neighbors next door.  We strive to make mindful choices, dedicated to modeling conscientious perspectives, avoiding divisive issues that draw attention away from meaningful connections with people and the planet."

 

There’s a new surge of youthful vigor into American agriculture — at least in the corner of it devoted to organic, local food. Thousands of young people who’ve never farmed before are trying it out

-NPR’s the Salt (Who Are The Young Farmers Of ‘Generation Organic’? by Dan Charles)

 

The Young Farmers Conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture has been going on for 9 years and is always sold out.

A shift is happening where there are women getting involved in agriculture. See the Forbes article here  The Female Farmer Project also is documenting the rise of women in agriculture by chronicling the stories of women who are creating change in our food system. Get connected with these stories here.

Hawaii is the first state in the nation to implement an organic foods production tax credit and the Industrial Hemp Pilot Project that will allow for the cultivation and distribution of seed for industrial hemp.-via www.joesouki.com

These two recent breakthroughs for agricultural production in Hawaii should be highlighted and could ignite a passion in the youth being that organic and hemp are two big passions for this specific demographic.

Let’s talk more about these opportunities and plant food for the fallow.

 

 

*The End of Sugar by Michael Keany, Honolulu Magazine pg 68

 


1 comment

  • Really great! This is what should happen all over the Globe To fully understand the interconnectedness of nature and the inhabitants
    Sunanda Weerasinghe
    Past President Sri lanka food processors Association

    Sunanda Weerasinghe

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