Day 2: After the enlightening day at the Legislature, the class was able to get to see different and very important components of agriculture in Hawaii, transportation, distribution, retail sale, and the food shed.
Our day started at Hawaiian Air Cargo. We began learning about Hawaiian’s vast Air Cargo Operations both for import and interisland movement of agricultural commodities. Dana, George and Pua gave us A LOT of information about the air cargo industry, what Hawaiian does for local Ag, their work on invasive species prevention, and how they are expanding their operations. They let us know that they now have dedicated freighters that will enable them to transport more cargo interisland, giving farmers additional options to ship their products. A little known tidbit: all the passenger planes from the mainland have the ability to transport cargo as well.
Next came an enlightening tour of their new cargo facility as they’ve only been here a couple years. I’ve seen the prior one, and this place is easily 20 times the size of the original facility! We got to see the vast number of people it takes to get things to Hawaii, their new cargo facility, and even get to go on the runway! Looking at it from a big picture scale, Hawaiian is only one carrier. When taking into account the size of their operation and the fact there are four other major carriers, it really shows how reliant the State is on imports.
Next stop, Armstrong Produce. Armstrong Produce is a local company and is the Hawaii’s largest distributor of fresh produce. Letisha (Tish) Uyehara, gave us a tour of their facility showing us the receiving area, various coolers for the produce that they deliver, and brought up one of the major challenges facing farmers in Hawaii: Producing enough of a commodity, with consistent quality, on a consistent basis. She said as a distributor, Armstrong’s customers expect to have those things and if Armstrong does not meet that need, then they are failing their customers. This is a major hurdle for Hawaii’s small farmers especially with most farms in the State being under 10 acres.
To learn more about Armstrong Produce visit their website.
Next stop on the Oahu Tour: Mud Hen Water and Chef Ed Kenney. He’s quite the star in the Hawaii food scene, and after meeting him and eating some of his food, there is no question why that is the case! We learned a lot about his business model and some of the challenges of using a locally sourced menu. His food shed concept was particularly interesting, comparing it to the Hawaiian Ahupuaa system. It is clearly a viable strategy, with a community kitchen, and using what is available at the time (seasonal) to feed and bring people together. However, Ed’s talent and ability are not for the normal chef and the ability to use pretty much only what local farmers produce speaks volumes to that!
His background, upbringing, and life outlook clearly drive him to produce something that really can’t be put into words, hence I won’t get too much into the food itself. You just need to go and experience it yourself. Once you see the love put into the food, you’ll be back for more. If you’re not the type that doesn’t care so much about that, everything tasted EXCELLENT!
Last official stop for the day, Foodland Farms in Ala Moana. Foodland is another critical niche in the movement of food as they are a direct retailer of local produce, having an entire section dedicated specifically to it. It was great to see that there is a great diversity of locally produced vegetables at a large retail scale. Looking at it deeper, and reflecting on what Tish and Ed said, how do we create more?
We got a full tour of the entire store with lots and lots of food samples along the way. After the fresh fruit at Armstrong, then Chef Ed’s lunch, most of us were full and we still had the Alumni dinner to go! Foodland Farms has a full complement of pretty much everything you could want from a grocery store and more, including: ready to go food, a coffee shop, live plants, fresh flowers, a bar… it’s a one stop shop!
If you haven’t already done so, check the store out. Give yourself some time to roam, there’s a lot to see. To learn more about Foodland Farm’s Ala Moana Location, check out their website. For more information about Foodland in general, click here.
It was fulfilling day, but one last task. Trip planning! Foodland was gracious to provide us with space to do a deeper dive into the actual details of what we’re going to do. The trip is definitely shaping up to be one heck of an experience!
We finished the day off with the alumni dinner at Donna Ching’s house and there were definitely a lot more alumni then I was expecting. But, with 16 classes, it really shouldn’t have been. It was great to talk to so many others who have been through or a part of the program and reconnect with a lot of familiar faces. It was just one more way for all of us to create additional connections for our futures as Ag leaders in Hawaii!