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January 2010

February 2010

Governor's Meeting on Rail Alternative (Pearl Johnson)
Grow Food for Schools on State Land (Pearl Johnson)
Annual Monson Community Action Award Reception (Sue Miller & Elizabeth Reilly)
Sharing of Aloha (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Leaguers Shine at ML King Parade (Ann Shaver)
Governor to Hold Public Hearings on Rail (Charles Carole)
Mary Anne Raywid
Calendar of Events
Welcome New Member / Mahalo Contributors

Grow Food for Schools on State Land

The State of Hawaii owns thousands of acres of land that were leased to grow sugar and pineapple. Most of these lands now lie vacant and unused.

Honolulu League wants the state to use these lands for sustainable agriculture and small family farms. The planning committee called a meeting on January 15, inviting all interested parties to participate.

A way to lead the state in this direction was articulated at a meeting on agriculture on December 12. Attorney Bill Tam, who worked for the State for many years, introduced a plan to use state land to grow food for schools: The state could lease land to farmers who would have an assured market (schools) and who would grow food needed by schools to offer healthy lunches.

League wants to help make possible a pilot project to lease 100 acres to 10 families who would be trained to grow the crops needed by the schools. Long-term leases are needed so farmers can invest in soil improvement and infrastructure. State law allows agencies to lease land for nominal amounts to promote the public good. Furthermore, the Admissions Act for Hawaii statehood specifies that lands granted to the state shall be used, among other things, for the development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible.

At the Dec. 12 meeting, a UH professor said that 55% of the state’s prime grades A and B agricultural land have already been developed and are not available to grow food.

At the January 15 meeting, Bill Tam said that fighting off development by offering an alternative use for land could be more effective than just fighting proposals as they came along. While many state leaders want to promote agriculture, there seems to be nothing concrete they can push for. The success of this pilot project would provide a way to proceed. He also pointed out that, in 2009, state procurement law was revised to allow purchase of locally-grown products at above market prices.

Dr. Kioni Dudley, who leads the fight against the Hoopili proposal which would cover the best agricultural land in Ewa with houses, also attended the meeting. He fears that land adjacent to the proposed project is being offered by the Department of Land& Natural Resources (DLNR) for lease to the highest bidder.

Kimberly Clark, a small farmer who distributes boxes of produce from neighbor islands, spoke of the difficulty of getting trained farm labor.

The difficulty of getting water for farming at reasonable prices was discussed at length. What are the holders of Waiahole Ditch water permits doing with their water? Is wastewater available for growing food?

Another problem is that small farmers are not now allowed to live on their farms, resulting in thefts and vandalism. Can state leases be structured to allow residences? Is legislation needed?

Next meeting Feb. 5, 10:30am
All interested members welcome

Pearl Johnson

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