Haleakala Chapter President’s Report for March 2017

Aloha mai Kākou,

Mahalo to everyone on this mailing list for supporting the ongoing efforts of the HFUU Haleakalā Chapter to create and sustain vibrant and prosperous agriculture community.  Mahalo especially to our tireless volunteers without whom our chapter would not function.  These people organize the meeting, find sponsors, cook food, prepare presentations clean up after the meetings, volunteer on farms, advocate for our policies in the halls of government and many many more things.  Please make sure you honor and appreciate the level that our volunteers are showing up at, and let them know you appreciate them.

In these days of political instability, climate change, globalization and land and water challenges, farmers need our support more than ever.  Truly, it is our community that will be the sustaining support mechanism for our agriculture producers in the long run, and we are making sure of that, and grateful to do so.

There are several things to report dear members:

Gov. Ige with FAM DelegatesOn Tuesday, February 24th at the pre-crack of dawn three FAM apprentices, Georgia Pinsky, Rayden (Ola) Kekona and Deneane Hanby along with FAM mentor, Bobby Pahia, HFUF President, Simon Russell, and FAM Program Director, Phyllis Robinson took the first flight from Maui bound for the state capitol.

Our mission:  To meet with elected Senators and Representatives about the importance of Senate Bill 356 which would expand the FAM program state-wide.

Our first stop, the top floor of the State Capitol to meet with Governor David Ige. [Read the full report…]

Last month’s meeting:
The February meeting was amazing, despite torrential rain, thunder and lightning, we had a standing room only crowd.  Big mahalo to our presenters Ed and Mahealani Wendt for sharing about the history of water diversions in East Maui.  Also Mahalo to Sunny Savage for teaching us how to eradicate invasive species sustainably by eating them.

This coming Saturday March 25th:
If you were unable to be with us at the first Farm Laulima in Keokea, please join with us on March 25th for our second Farm Laulima at a farm (yet to be named) at Omaopio & Piliwale, in Kula.  Here is a link to the website where you can register and learn more about that fun event: https://hfuu.z2systems.com/np/clients/hfuu/event.jsp?event=76

Upcoming Annual Chapter Elections and Business Meeting

Important Update: Members please attend the April 28th meeting. We will be having our annual meeting where we will elect our new board of directors and take a look at our policies and bylaws.  Stay tuned for the detailed announcement coming soon.

In addition to all of that, I had the honor of being the HFUU Delegate to the National Farmers Union Annual Convention in San Diego this year, and it was really good to get to know the policies of the NFU and how the different state Chapters relate.  President Mina is influencing National Farmers Union and American agriculture through his Regenerative Agriculture and Local Food committee (RALF).  He had an amazing workshop on the impact of microbes in the soil (Presented by Jennifer Kucera USDA Soil microbiologist), and Raw milk for gut health as presented by Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, America’s largest producer of Raw Milk.


Food Hub in Hāʻiku: Your Chapter Sustainable Agriculture Committee has been advocating for you with the Mayor’s office and the office of economic development to lease some county land for 50 years in Hāʻiku to start a food hub.  We can also have a decent sized community farm there.

Your board of directors believes that a food hub/farmers market in Hāʻiku is long overdue, and we are working diligently with county government and community stakeholders to build a proper business plan that can be capitalized to grow some infrastructure in our region to aggregate, process and distribute food to our community.

FAM Program News: As your representative to the Hawaii Farmers Union Foundation, and its president it is also my duty to share some of the awesome things happening with the FAM program.

Your HFU Foundation (http://www.hfuf.org) has a $75K grant to support the ongoing operations of the FAM program. This year we are asking the County to increase that to $100K so that we can expand the program.

Our FAM program continues to increase its capacity to serve the farming community by growing the next generation of farmers.  If you are unaware of the FAM program, please check it out and Like on Facebook.

These FAM funds are a line item in the Mayor’s budget, and come to HFUF through the Maui County Office of Economic Development (OED).  These funds are also under the oversight of the Maui County Council Committee on Policy, Economic Development and Agriculture (PEA).  In keeping with best practices for our systems of accountability, we toured OED Director Tena Rasmussen on four of our Haleakalā members’ farms in 4 different micro-climates with a diversity of sustainable production techniques on each one.  Special thanks to Melissa Olivit (Sailing Windward Farm), Evan Ryan (Pono Grown Farms), Ryan Eareheart (ʻOkoʻa Farms) and John Dobovan (Kulahaven Farms) for showing Director Rasmussen around and helping our county understand how our tax dollars are being invested in a sustainable farming future.  Pono Grown Farms and Kula Haven farms are mentoring the apprentices in the FAM program.

In addition, FAM Director Phyllis Robinson, FAM apprentice Georgia Pinsky and Myself met with the PEA committee Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura and share with her the importance of farmer apprenticeships.  Mahalo to Phyllis and Georgia, for being there.  Educating the leadership that has oversight of our funding streams is important.

Legislation & Lobbying: In addition to all that, because of the financial support of one of our Haleakalā members, we were able to take three FAM apprentices (Ola Kekona, Dee Hamby, and Georgia Pinsky), FAM Mentor and Kalo Farmer Bobby Pahia, Director Robinson GoFarm Director Steven Chiang and myself to meet with Governor David Ige, and advocate for support for farmer apprenticeships to meet his challenge of doubling the local food supply by 2020.  Governor was very supportive. The group also met with the Senate and House Agriculture Committee Chairs and spoke about expanding the FAM program state wide. Read more on our blog.

Kamehameha Schools Collaboration: Lest you think that’s all the good news about the FAM program, the final high point is that the Kamehameha Schools Community Investment Division has executed our contract for a learning farm and a feeder program for the agriculture community to teach natural farming practices on the new ease acreage in Lahainā.  Currently the program and lease is under the supervision of the HFUF/HFUU Education Committee, and we are breaking ground on those 12.6 acres now.  We will host FAM program activities and are in the business of recreating King Kamehameha’s food forest, which existed there before the sugar era.

Your HFUU Maui Chapters have an opportunity to collaborate with Kamehameha Schools and the Lāhui (native Hawaiian community) to restore the culture of the Lahainā area known as Kuʻia to some of its former productivity with native crops like ʻUlu, ʻUala, Ko and Kalo.  This is truly an opportunity to embrace and support.

Open Tatura Tree Trellis Grant: We are also receiving a Specialty crop block grant for the same farm in Lahainā to produce Moringa (a superfood) and another specialty crop block grant to grow tropical fruit trees on the open tatura tree trellis’s (explanation by former HFUU-Kohala Chapter President, Nathan Hayward).

Imua HFUU Haleakalā !

Simon Russell
HFUU-Haleakala Chapter