Maui Tomorrow has release a new report on how create more agricultural jobs while still providing effective and environmentally responsible stewardship of the land, states an Apr. 11 news release from the nonprofit organization. Titled Malama Aina: A conversation about Maui’s Farming Future, the 52-page report from Permaculture Design International LLC bills itself as “the start of a community conversation” on the future of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S)’s 36,000 acres, which will cease growing sugar at the end of this year.
Though Alexander & Baldwin (A&B–the parent company of HC&S) has said they will transition over to “diversified agriculture” on at least some of their lands, the company has of yet released few details on what that might look like. This report seeks to get people thinking about what truly diversified ag would both require of and return to Maui.
Alika Atay, a part-Hawaiian farmer who combines permaculture with traditional farming practices (and who just announced that he’s running for Mike Victorino’s soon-to-be-vacated Maui County Council seat), was one of the consultants on the report.
“As guardians of our island’s environment, we must remember our values,” said Atay in an Apr. 11 Maui Tomorrow news release. “This is an opportunity to go back to the values that Maui people were raised with. Malama ʻAina, Aloha ʻAina–this is how we were raised. We need to go back to the future! Hawaii used to be 100 percent self-sufficient, but now we import 90 percent of our food. This report marks the beginning of a return to those values.
“I want to thank A&B for the important role they have played in our local economy and for having created opportunity for generations of their employees,” Atay continued. “Although the closure of the sugar plantation is a painful episode for many, we must embrace the future and open ourselves to this important opportunity to move with aloha for each other toward a sustainable, self-reliant, chemical-free agricultural future.”
You can read the new report by going to FutureOfMaui.org.
Photo of diversified agriculture in Belgium: Giles San Martin/Wikimedia Commons