28 DECEMBER 2012 - for the Hawai'i HomeGrown Food Network|
For nearly three years I have had the 'job' of visiting farmers markets and individual farmers for Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network, including some who participate in CSA farming (Community Supported Agriculture by membership or subscription), and visiting stores that sell homegrown foods and products around our island. I call it a job because it is a commitment, but it is also a privilege and the best and most fun job I've ever had.
We have about 30 farmers markets scattered all around the island. Some are large and some are very small, but when you consider that each market hosts at minimum 3-5 farmers, and usually many more, plus the scores who do not participate in farmers market sales, you can begin to appreciate how many dedicated people there are who grow food on this island.
The past features I've shared through Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network include 16Â farmers markets, fiveÂ CSAs, three farmers, four health food stores, an outlet for local produce and products, a school garden, a chef that promotes island-grown in his menus, and four other related articles of general interest.
But time and circumstances can't help but bring about changes...some for better, some not. Two of the markets I've visited and written about in the past have since changed location, others have expanded, one is not drawing as many vendors as in the beginning; one of the CSA farmers is no longer growing for subscribers; and one of the stores that featured homegrown produce and products is being forced to close because their store is located in the same shopping center as a larger grocery store.
Even though our island has many farmers, enough space, and ideal weather conditions and terrain for cultivating almost anything that grows anywhere else in the world, we still cannot rest on our laurels. We could be, or have the potential to be, the "food pantry" for the state.
As we all know, and depending on whose statistics you look up, at least 80% or more of the food consumed on this island is brought in from the mainland and other parts of the world. These same sources tell us that our stores and warehouses only stock enough food to last at best a week or two! So...what happens if the boats don't come?
We need to teach school children that food does not originally grow in cans. We need to encourage more people to farm and try to keep the younger generations on their parents' farms or learn to start farms of their own. We need to encourage more people to open outlets where local farmers can bring their produce and products to sell; more chefs and restaurants to 'sponsor' or form partnerships with farmers. We need to make it easier for farmers to make a living instead of drowning them under regulations, paperwork and red tape so that small independent farmers don't throw up their arms and give up in defeat.
How do we do all of this?
We start just one person at a time by shopping for as much of our food as possible at farmers markets that encourage locally grown produce and locally manufactured products only.
And we support the small store outlets that are already selling locally grown produce and products.
And we encourage more schools to participate in school garden programs.
And we ask chefs to start featuring more dishes made from locally grown or sourced produce, grass-fed beef and other locally raised meats and fish, and any other available products from farmers and other purveyors that the chefs sponsor or develop a relationship with, while listing them on their menu by mentioning the name of the farms that supply their fresh produce or product. And we ask them to let the consumer know that by ordering a particular dish they are helping a local farmer stay in business.
A farmer friend of ours who lives nearby is a very outspoken advocate for all farmers in the state and his favorite much-repeated phrase is "If a farmer can make money a farmer will farm." In economic terms that means: the greater the demand for local products, the more likely farmers can make money.
My "wish for the future" of our island is to see more farmers markets encouraging vendors who sell only locally grown or manufactured products. I would love to hear of more schools starting gardens where the keiki can learn how to plant, cultivate, harvest and, yes, cook what they grow. I would like to see more chefs that commit to partnerships with local farmers, and let the world know...and more consumers signing up for CSA subscriptions and buying at farmers markets.
There are posters and bumper stickers that tell you to "Shop Local...It Matters"...Please do, because it does!
Wishing all a very prosperous New Year... Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!
Sonia<hr style=" margin: 15px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; height: 1px; color: #646464;">
To see past features about farmers markets, CSA and Community Gardens, please click on this link:http://www.hawaiihomegrown.net/farmers-markets
To keep up with what is going on in the home grown food world of our island sign up to receive the monthly newsletters from the Hawai'i HomeGrown Food Network by click on this link:http://www.hawaiihomegrown.net/newsletter/sign-up-for-the-newsletter
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Sonia R. Martinez, the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network regular farmers market reporter, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka'a. She is a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine; contributing writer for Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine and has her own food & garden blog atÂ Sonia Tastes Hawaii
Above article copied and pasted from the HHFN Newsletter.