Land of opportunity?

Last year I attended a Slow Food O‘ahu event—a talk by Gary Nabhan, author of Coming Home to Eat, on reviving food traditions. His lecture and slide show were followed by a panel discussion, really a talk story session with everyone sitting in a circle in the community room at Queen Emma Palace, with local farming celebrities Ka‘ala Farm’s Eric Enos, taro farmer Paul Reppun and MA‘O Organic Farms‘ Gary and Kukui Maunakea Forth.

It was a great afternoon, with a lot of informed people asking intelligent questions. The enthusiasm for growing and eating local was high. But when one young I-think-I’d-like-to-farm idealist asked the panelists how to get land—paying a six-figure market price for a small parcel is out of reach of working farmers—he got silence. There’s no magical $1-a-year subsidized piece of farming land. (I know—back in 2003 that’s what I wanted to do for about five seconds.) It involves a lot of paperwork, grant writing, permit-getting and—yes—money.

Ragnar Carlson’s Honolulu Weekly article Farming the future looks at the status of Hawai‘i’s Important Agricultural Lands—and the progress is exciting. No, there’s no sidebar telling you how to get your perfect patch, but the fact that there will be land available, even if you have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get it, is heartening.

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