My Dad named the lands where we put our hands into the earth “Onipa’a Mahi’ai”- the steadfast farmer. And steadfast we are. From our early days of commercial farming lettuce and cabbage to flowers and poha berries for jam and later specializing in organic produce we know that the bounty of the land comes from hard work, commitment, innovation and cooperation.
I don’t miss those cold and dark Pu’ukapu mornings with a driving rain “making music” on our roof. There was always a choice. Hit the snooze button or get up and pay the bills. Sometimes my motivation was my Dad turning on the garage light, or hearing my worker’s truck turn onto the farm road heading to the fields. We would get it done. A half a ton of produce cut, bagged and boxed and ready for pick up by 9 a.m. A quick brunch and right back at it for a full day of plowing, weeding, mowing and planting.
The devasting economic impacts of the COVID pandemic have resulted in calls for a focus on small business, specialized products and sustainable industries. The potential for agri-business sucess on Hawai`i Island is tremendous. My knees are creaky and my back isn’t as strong as it used to be so I might not be out in the fields pulling weeds all day. I will try. As the OHA-Hawaii Island Trustee I will ensure we are right there with our community providing support however possible to see our next generation of farmers, ranchers and fishers innovate, cooperate and succeed in supporting their families and feeding their communities.