On my recent (and wonderful!) trip to Hawaii I did a lovely farm tour on a 4th generation fruit farm and learned that there are a lot of similarities in the food security challenges faced in Nova Scotia as Hawaii. With all our differences (climate, landscape, history) who would guess there would be such parallels?
The visit started with a ‘smoothie tour’, which basically shows you how all the fruit and vegetables in your smoothie grow – plus it ends with a delicious smoothie. Here are some of the plants:
There are a few tricks to growing on O’ahu. First, the beautiful trade winds that keep the days breezy and the waves the best in the world for surfing, are harmful for the plants which need calmer growing environments. So the farmers planted many ironwood trees and lots of wind breaks to cut the breeze, which makes it harder on the farmers to labour in the hot sun, but easier on the plants. They also use row cover to keep the moisture in the soil (as well as to keep the weeds at bay of course!).
Value Add for Economic Survival
Farmers find it hard to make a living there, just like here. This farm has tried out a series of value-added products to stay in business – from a cafe with smoothies to body products to jams and salad dressings. They shared that this was a great way to use all the produce that doesn’t meet quality and consistency guidelines (right size, shape and look) for the grocery stores and international markets.
They are an incredibly entrepreneurial family, which is probably why their farm has survived when so many around them have faded away. For example, they began experimenting with growing their own cacao trees and making chocolate. However it was proving too expensive in terms of labour and they didn’t have the economy of scale to use local production facilitates to turn it into chocolate. Just as they were giving up on this effort, the local Dole company stepped in to offer access to their facilities. Now they’re able to sell their own chocolate and make profit.
Check it out for yourself!
If you find yourself wandering around O’ahu, I highly recommend you check out Kahuku Farms and try the most delicious smoothie!
Blog Written By: Miranda Cobb, Ecology Action Centre, Research and Evaluation Coordinator
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre.
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