On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, HRDC organized a screening and discussion of a portion of Seeds of Hope in conjunction with the offices of Senator Clarence Nishihara (Senate Agriculture Committee Chair), Representative Jessica Wooley (House Agriculture Committee Chair) and Representative Chris Lee (House Energy and the Environment Committee Chair).
Special guest former Governor George Ariyoshi was a featured speaker, addressing an audience of more than 70 state legislators and their staff, as well as representatives of other agencies and farming organizations including Darcy Oishi from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation President Dean Okimoto of Nalo Farms and Hawai‘i Farmer’s Union O‘ahu President Moriah Smith of Kona Pele Coffee Farm.
A tasting luncheon of fresh local ingredients was prepared by the Haleiwa, Ala Moana, Kailua Town and Hawaii Kai Farmer’s Markets together with Hui Aloha ‘Aina Momona, thanks to generous food donations from Whole Foods Market Kahala, Kona Pele Coffee, Hawaiian Fresh Farms and Mohala Farms.
In his opening remarks, HRDC Chair Alan Murakami emphasized the organization’s goal of creating a respectful and inclusive forum for dialogue between the public and state legislators about the issue of Hawai‘i’s food security and local agriculture. Governor Ariyoshi drew poignant comparisons between many of the same issues during his administration and today’s challenges, including the need to protect land and water resources in the long term. He pointed out that the creation of the Land Use Commission under his guidance was in order to “make sure that the public had a say in the use of lands, because in order to have agriculture in Hawai‘i, you have to have land.” Governor Ariyoshi also emphasized the importance of paying close attention to “the priority we give to our water,” and illustrated the need to preserve water resources for public trust uses with the Waiahole Valley water disputes he negotiated. He also underscored the University of Hawai‘i’s research in support of a vital and healthy agriculture industry.
Senator Nishihara referred to his youth growing up in a farming community on Maui island, where he witnessed many former agricultural lands in Kula become gentleman’s estates. He too emphasized the importance of preserving Hawai‘i’s remaining agricultural resources and supporting research efforts to protect local crops from disease and other threats.
Representative Jessica Wooley described this as “an exciting time to be talking about food,” and said that, “It’s the obligation of our Legislature to make sure that we can grow food for local consumption, while paying respect to this land and the Hawaiian culture.” Wooley also said that it was important “not to be dogmatic, but learn to reach consensus. We need a paradigm shift if we’re going to succeed. We have so much potential and we have fallen short of fulfilling it.”
Representative Chris Lee exhorted all participants to experience the potential of local agriculture and support the farmers who are behind this movement by enjoying the delicious sampling that was prepared for the occasion by Pamela Boyar of the Haleiwa, Ala Moana, Hawaii Kai and Kailua Farmer’s Markets.
Check out this short excerpt from Governor Ariyoshi’s speech:
The following legislators’ offices were present at the event:
Hawai‘i State Senate
- Senator Will Espero
- Senator Michael Gabbard
- Senator Brickwood Galuteria
- Senator David Ige
- Senator Les Ihara
- Senator Russell Ruderman
- Senator Maile Shimabukuro
- Senator Sam Slom
- Senator Brian Taniguchi
- Senator Laura Thielen
- Senator Glenn Wakai
Hawai‘i House of Representatives
- Representative Della Au Belatti
- Representative Lauren Kealohilani Cheape
- Representative Denny Coffman
- Representative Cindy Evans
- Representative Derek Kawakami
- Representative Bertrand Kobayashi
- Representative Chris Lee
- Representative John Mizuno
- Representative Mark Nakashima
- Representative Richard Onishi
- Representative Cynthia Thielen
- Representative Jessica Wooley
- Liutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui
- Senate Majority Research Office
- Office of Hawaiian Affairs
- Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture