Agricultural community vital to sustainability
by Sharon Higa | March 23, 2021
On this National Ag Day, March 23, we honor Hawaii’s agricultural community by highlighting a few local farms and some key organizations we’ve partnered with over the years, and draw attention to the important work they do to promote and sustain the agricultural industry in Hawaii:
Hawaiian Electric has been a sponsor of Aloun Farm’s Ewa Sweet Onion Culinary Competition & Awards which nurtures farming in Hawaii and encourages aspiring high school students to pursue their interest in the culinary arts. For several years, we also sponsored Aloun Farm’s annual Pumpkin Festival and Educational Tours which collected canned goods for the Hawaii Foodbank and gently used clothing for local charitable organizations while also promoting agriculture. We donated our sponsor benefits, such as discounted admission passes and vouchers for free pumpkins, to Makakilo Elementary School.
Hawaii Agricultural Foundation
We were on board as a sponsor when the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation (in partnership with After School All-Stars and Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii) launched the inaugural “Kids Cooking Local,” a new culinary education program designed to bring fresh locally grown produce and cooking lessons to middle school-aged students in underserved communities including Palolo, Waianae and Ewa Beach. Local chefs taught students how to prepare nutritious, tasty snacks and meals with products grown by local farmers. Students also received a bag filled with produce ranging from greens and bok choy to eggplant and oranges that was taken home bi-weekly to encourage home cooking and healthier eating for the whole family.
Hawaii Farm Bureau
Like many businesses and organizations, we’ve been a sponsor of the Hawaii Farm Bureau’s (HFB) annual Farm Fairs, one of the most beloved and long-standing traditions for island residents since 1962. During the pandemic, we joined with HFB, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, and other sponsors on the Farm to Hospital Initiative. The program supported farmers with the purchase of 20,000 pounds of fresh, nutritious produce and then delivered the bounty to about 2,000 healthcare professionals on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.
Oahu Resource Conservation & Development Council
The annual Parade of Farms is a behind-the-scenes peek into local agriculture, all hosted by the Oahu Resource Conservation & Development Council (Oahu RC&D). Each year since 2016, Oahu RC&D showcases a different geographic region of island farms including Waimanalo and Waianae where Hawaiian Electric employees volunteered at check-in/registration, directing traffic, and wherever needed to keep the events running smoothly. We also provided support as a sponsor.
Hoa Aina O Makaha
Hoa Aina O Makaha, meaning Land Shared in Friendship, is a thriving learning center supporting families and community self-reliance on the Waianae Coast. In 2015, about 100 Hawaiian Electric employees gave the farm a makeover by repainting the Peace Center, restrooms and gazebo, as well as assisted with landscape work. A donation to the nonprofit in 2019 is helping to support the Na Keiki o ka Aina program for about 550 Makaha Elementary School students who regularly visit the farm where they connect with the outdoors, learn to grow food sustainably, gain healthy eating habits, and bring the lessons home to share with their families and their community.
Sharon Higa is a senior communications consultant at Hawaiian Electric Company.