It’s a beautiful time to be a farmer in Hawaii. Every morning I wake up and I say thank you for my life, thank you for my health. Thank you for this beautiful farm that is my home. I am so blessed.

Farmers in our state have been given an extraordinary opportunity to serve at this time.

From the aquaponics hobby farmer who lives in a condominium, to the legendary Ma`o farms, we are determined to rise to the occasion and provide food for our state that is produced right here in Hawaii.

Eight-five percent of our food is brought in by ships, according to a 2007 study by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Farmers Market

More farming in Hawaii is key to food security and, perhaps, lower costs in the islands. Brock Rosberry

Not only is it possible for Hawaii to produce our own food, it is necessary. Our agricultural model can, with good planning and respectful implementation, be transitioned to one that is a net gain for the state.

It is important to remember that a healthy civil society of citizens who respect each other’s safety, free speech, and right to hold their own opinions, is more valuable than any other asset in the state of Hawaii.

Civil servants who grew up here and have dedicated their lives to partnership with the public, can tell you that there never has and probably never will be any unanimous agreement on how to farm. That doesn’t stop them from continuing to serve the public need no matter who it is that comes to them.

Educators who grew up here and have devoted their lives to empowering Hawaii’s youth with knowledge, will tell you that although there are often disagreements about the truth, the higher goal is always to serve the path of learning.

That is why Hawaii Farmers’ Union United commits to farmers first. We do have a bright future ahead of us as family farm businesses.

Empowering agricultural entrepreneurship can boost our economy where it is needed the most, in the middle class. Giving young people a stake in society makes us a more resilient, safer community.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development, which is a special agency of the United Nations, published findings in its 2013 report showing that smallholder farmers provide over 80 percent of the food consumed in the world. It stated that, “Smallholders should be included as important custodians of natural resources and as entrepreneurs with the capacity to invest in natural assets and contribute to national and global production systems.”

In the face of events like Hurricane Iselle, people in our state are waking up to the need to grow our own food right here. Hawaii’s residents can feed Hawaii.

IFAD also asserts that small community farms that deliver produce to the local market are better for the environment because they produce fewer greenhouse gases in their supply chain, and that the vegetables hold more nutrients because they are allowed to ripen longer and travel time between farm and table is shorter.

At this year’s state Democratic Convention, the party adopted a resolution to support smallholder farmers, based upon the findings of this international agency.

Our food systems might be subject to change, but we are the equals of the challenges faced by the great state of Hawaii. To this end, the Hawaii Farmers’ Union United introduced an on-farm mentoring bill during the last legislative session.

HFUU has been a driving partner in the push for consolidating food safety certification standards into one statewide certification, that would be more cost effective for family owned farm businesses.

In the face of events like Hurricane Iselle, people in our state are waking up to the need to grow our own food right here. Hawaii’s residents can feed Hawaii.

That is what Hawaii Farmers’ Union United represents and where I personally plant my stake – my tomato stake, that is.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author