Aloha all! This past May, thirty-five of our leaders across the islands gathered for a weekend in Ka’u, Hawaii Island at the hundred-year-old house of the former manager of Ka’u sugar plantation.
This annual HFUU strategic planning session included representatives from all nine chapters, HFU Foundation 501c-3 board members and committee chairs. Senator Gabbard, Sen. Ruderman, Rep Creagan and Director of Agriculture, Scott Enright and his procurement officer were also in attendance.
We presented our five-point plan designed to provide infrastructure and support family farmers who make their living feeding our communities. The plan hinges around;
- work force development
- regional nutrient recycling centers
- agricultural land trusts in support of family farmers living where they farm,
- Food Hubs (aka Agricultural Community Development Cooperatives or ACDC – energetic by nature), and
- Origin Pride: protecting the origin of where specialty crops are grown.
Historically, the annual strategy weekend has provided HFUU with a focus in support of our mission and our members. We didn’t have ties to a national entity that supports family farmers during my early years of farming on Maui. I’m truly heartened by how far we have come in such a short time, and to have the support of the National Farmers Union. Conversely, the many state chapters that comprise the NFU are being exposed to the value of whole systems of regenerative agriculture and what it can do for the health of the soil, the local food movement, food security, and the health of our communities.
As part of the strategic planning session we gathered our presidents to work on our upcoming annual convention being held October 14-16 at OK farms just outside of Hilo. OK Farms is a beautiful transitional 1000-acre fruit farm. The convention represents what is possible with a focus on celebrating local food production utilizing regenerative eco-logical and organic agricultural practices.
The convention agenda will include multiple breakout sessions;
- Open Tatura Y trellis fruit production will be presented by the man who has been instrumental in its development, Australian farmer, Peter Sallares. The system raises yields in a low canopy horizontal fruiting system.
- Hemp farmer providing institutional knowledge in growing and processing hemp for our emerging hemp industry
- Practitioners of Cho Global and Jadam Organic natural farming practices doing demonstrations as to how a hybrid system of feeding both the aerobic rhizosphere (the top 7 inches the soil) and the lower levels of anaerobic soil can be fed with these two modalities.
Business plan development and representation by agricultural agencies in financial support of family farms will make this convention a great place to network, educate and be educated along with, of course, consuming ONO locally produced food.
The principal purpose of hosting an annual convention is to propose and amend the policies that define our organization and to refine the bylaws that push our movement forward. NFU President, Roger Johnson, has committed to being the parliamentarian overseeing the 2016 convention. Roger has been a strong advocate at the national board for Hawai’i to attain charter status with NFU – the first state to do so in 17 years.
While representing Hawai’i at a recent NFU summer board meeting President Johnson spoke specifically about how impressed he was with the growth and development of HFUU and described HFUU as “running on all cylinders”. The cylinders he is referring to are our core leadership, financial liquidity and membership growth. They are also determining factors for the national board when voting on our charter status.
All this evolves around our having a collaborative organization that is committed to supporting Hawai’i Farmers making a living at what they love to do. This is why local representation at the national level broadens our outreach and expands awareness around the unique advantages and challenges we face in Hawai’i. Please do your part by keeping your membership current and continue to support HFUU and Hawai’i family farmers as we strive to attain charter status with NFU.
President, Hawai’i Farmers Union United