On April 3, Kokua Kalihi Valley (KKV) hosted a screening of Seeds of Hope at its lower Kalihi Community Health Clinic. The event was organized by Ho‘oulu ‘Aina Youth Programs Coordinator in conjunction with HRDC and accompanied by a fresh garden meal from the Ho‘oulu ‘Aina garden in upper Kalihi Valley. A large cohort of Kanu Hawai‘i fellows attended and following the screening, a discussion was led by HRDC Board Chair Alan Murakami.
Some of the questions brought up during the discussion were focused on whether Hawai‘i really can be self-sufficient once again, and what some of the systemic barriers to that degree of sustainability are today (as opposed to several hundred years ago, when native Hawaiians provided for all their needs). Another point raised by Kanu Hawai‘i’s Community Organizer Cherilyn Inouye is the social justice question of access: although efforts are being made to educate consumers about buying local, there is the very real economic limitation of locally produced food being significantly more expensive than imports.
As part of its Earth Day film series, “To Earth With Love,” the Honolulu Museum’s Doris Duke Theatre, in conjunction with The Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, presented Seeds of Hope on the evening of April 24. A post-screening panel discussion was moderated by Catherine Black and featured Anthony Aalto, head of the O‘ahu Group of the Sierra Club; HRDC Board Member and KUA Executive Director Kevin Chang, and Adam Zaslow, Mahi ‘Aina Coordinator at KKV’s Ho‘oulu ‘Aina project.
In their opening remarks, Chang provided some background on HRDC and why the organization invested in this film as a mechanism for deepening dialogue around food security in Hawai‘i. Zaslow emphasized the point that buying locally produced food does not equate sustainability if it is not organically farmed. As a young farmer and gardener, he also stressed that becoming a farmer—especially for young people today—is hard work. He believes that many individuals get discouraged when they come up against the challenges that our system poses, such as a lack of access to land and water. Aalto gave a general overview the policy landscape with respect to food, touching on the Sierra Club’s efforts to lobby for the “Food Self-Sufficiency Bill” HB 2703 in 2012 and various food-relate bills in 2013, as well as the group’s work to defend O‘ahu farmlands in Ho‘opili and Koa Ridge from urban development.
Audience members were particularly interested in the issue of pesticides and toxins, either as part of current agricultural practices or residue from previous uses such as the former Dole pineapple fields that are currently for sale in central O‘ahu. Several people expressed their concern about obtaining “clean” and healthy foods at local farmers markets, as well as questioning the long-term impacts of our farming practices on fragile environmental resources. There was considerable discussion about how to move lawmakers to make the tough decisions about land and water use that would not favor short-term economic growth through urban development, but rather long-term investment in the health of Hawai‘i’s environment and its people by preserving rural open space and agriculture.