West Hawai‘i, Day 3 — Agriculture Awareness

Saturday mornings are great for farmer’s markets! We started bright and early at the Parker School Farmer’s Market where we saw a wide variety of farm goods and value added products from fresh tomatoes and strawberries to jams, goat cheese and even alpaca yarn. Most importantly (to some), it is the perfect place to grab a healthy local breakfast.

Vegetables are so beautiful! Romanesco at the Parker School market

But there is one thing that’s better than a farmer’s market on Saturday morning…and that is TWO farmer’s markets on a Saturday morning! After talking story with some farmers at Parker School, and stocking up on fresh strawberries for the short ride, we headed over to the Kamuela Farmers Market at Pukalani Stables. Again we were greeted with such a wide variety of produce, plants, fresh baked goods, tea and so much more! We even had time to take a peek into the Paniolo Hall of Fame Exhibit that is housed at the historic Pukalani Stables.

Delicious tropical fruits on display at the Kamuela market

After sampling the many goods available at the market, it was time to set up for the much anticipated Agriculture Awareness Day hosted by the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii (ALFH). This was an amazing effort spearheaded by our very own Olelo pa‘a Ogawa to raise awareness around current challenges agriculture in Hawaii faces today, as well as discussion about potential solutions. A big mahalo to Olelo for an amazing line-up of speakers including :

-David Fuertes, Kahua Pa‘a Mua Farm
-Howard Ling, South Kona farmer
-Dr. Tim Richards, County Councilman, and Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management
-Dash Kuhr, Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture (HIP)
-JoAnn Nobriga, Double D Ranch

Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve. David Fuertes of Kahua Pa‘a Mua Farm reminded us of the FFA creed.

Councilmember Tim Richards spoke about supporting agriculture on Hawaii island

Many speakers shared personal stories of inspiration with us, calls to action, and some stories of intense hardship. Throughout the program we also heard encouraging words from our ALP Class XVI members: Director Christine Brammer, Olelo pa‘a Ogawa, Will Lydgate, Buddy Nichols, Nick Reppun and Dana Sato shared their thoughts and insights.

JoAnn Nobriga of Double D Ranch talked about the joys and hardships of ranching, and shared a poignant personal story about losing cattle to lava last year.

After a quick stop for lunch we headed to Parker Ranch to meet up with Brian Caires, Purebred Cattle Manager. We learned a lot about the ranch, it’s history which spans the last 160 years, and current ranch initiatives. The best part was an epic truck ride to see thousands of acres of managed grazing land.

Such a beautiful place to stop for a photo. This is our class with Brian Caires near the hanai poi hunting cabin.

Much of Parker Ranch’s 130,000 acres is rich grazing land, from foothills to valleys in the areas of Waiemi, Waiki‘i, Makahalau, Pa‘auhau, and Kohala. One of the most notable things about Parker Ranch for me was that in 1992 all of the assets of the ranch were put into a trust to four Waimea beneficiaries: Parker School, Hawaii preparatory Academy, Hawaii Community Foundation’s Richard Smart Fund, and North Hawaii Community Hospital. This is how Richard Smart (6th generation Parker descendant) was able to ensure that Parker Ranch would always maintain a single goal and focus: the betterment of the Waimea community. For more information visit ​https://parkerranch.com​.

We ended our day with a group session refining our plans and schedule for our national trip in September. It will be here before we know it!

A few ag leaders take a break in the pasture

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Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i
P. O. Box 342066
Kailua, HI 96734