Monday, May 19, 2014

Seminar 7 - Day 4 - Oysters and Graduation!

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in Kualoa on O'ahu's windward side. And the site, Kualoa Ranch, was a prime location for our final gathering.

Kualoa Ranch is run by the Morgan family, a long-time kamaʻāina family that has managed the lands within three ahupua'a for generations. We gathered at Moli'i fishpond and met with Ku'uipo McCarty, who is running the aquaculture program for the ranch. Ku'uipo marveled us with her knowledge of not only the history of the land but also of raising oysters, which she has learned on the job. After years of test growing, Kualoa Ranch is now permitted to sell farm fresh live oysters.

Here are some of the oyster "spat," which is the larval stage of oysters. The spat grows to be market size within 6-8 weeks, which is quite fast. We held the oysters in our hands and felt how heavy (meaty) they were!

Before we headed off to the festivities, we took one final moment as a class to evaluate the seminar and the overall program, all the with goal of improving things for the future. Evaluation is a key component of leadership, particularly if we can take action on making things better no matter how big or small the steps may be.

Then, finally, it is time for graduation. Gathered at the beautiful pavilion in the Moli'i Garden, we enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by Kualoa Ranch and heard from the head po'o (leader) of the operation, John Morgan. John shared about his background and how he helped shift the business from a more passive model to an active one that preserves and protects the natural beauty and culture while developing recreational and agricultural enterprises compatible with the environment. It's no wonder that John and Kualoa Ranch have won numerous awards locally and nationally.

After John spoke, Mark Cummings, ALP alumnus and current President of the Board of Directors of ALFH spoke. He and Pauline then passed out graduation certificates to the class members. We are happy to announce that everyone graduated!  See our happy faces that reflect life-long relationships that will only grow over time. Imua (move forward), Class XIV!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Seminar 7 - Day 3

When you start the day with a fallen tree in the road blocking your way, it might not be a good sign.

But we're ag leaders and nothing stops us!  Tyler made quick work on clearing the tree so that we could start our meeting at the Hawai'i Agricultural Research Center's substation in Maunawili.


We began with presentations by Ashley and Sydney on UH's CTAHR program and Kamehameha School's strategic plan on managing agricultural and conservation land assets, respectively. Then we quickly launched into the "leadership panel" that Peter Adler assembled. Joan Husted, Robbie Alm, Russell Kokubun, and Diane Ley participated in a fascinating free-form discussion covering topics including when their leadership was tested. We were enthralled by their wisdom and experience for nearly two hours! Mahalo nui loa to our panel for spending their morning with us to give us great advice as we advance our leadership skills.

After the discussion, Tyler led the group on a short tour of the research station's nursery. (Sorry, no photos for now but they will be added later.)

After lunch, we departed the rain forest of Maunawili to the verdant fishpond in He'eia. We met with Hi'ilei Kawelo, Executive Director of the non-profit Paepae o He'eia. She has been with the organization for 15 years and has taken part in nearly every aspect of the work of the organization, which focuses on restoration of the fishpond, education, and social enterprise (selling products grown in the fishpond). We learned so much in a brief period of time from this fantastic young leader.

We then took a quick jaunt up mauka to see one of Hi'ilei's "partners in crime," Rick Barboza, who co-runs the Hui Kū Maoli Ola native plant nursery. We were impressed with the expansive nursery filled with 160 species of native plants, including several that are endangered. The plants ranged from tiny seedlings to large trees. Rick's company has expanded services to include landscaping, plant rentals and event planning -- all featuring Hawaii's beautiful native plants.


We also visited the non-profit arm of Hui Kū, which is Papahana Kuaola, an environmental education organization. This group reaches more than 30,000 school children every year on programs that allow students to learn in-depth background on Hawaii's natural history as well as to get their hands and feet in the ʻāina. One thing's for sure, it is beautiful back there, thanks to the hard work of the staff and Mother Nature.

Finally, we ended our day with what has become a tradition with the class, a group dinner where we cook and eat together. This time we went to Sydney's lovely home in Kāne'ohe and prepared food grown by O'ahu's farmers and sourced by O'ahu Fresh. We were happy to have some of our "significant others" join us.

What a lovely day! And to think we started with that fallen tree. No problem!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Seminar 7 - Day 2

Today we spent much of the morning evaluating the ALP and offering suggestions of ways it could improve. It was a good sharing of ideas that we will present to the ALFH board.

We then headed off to Central O'ahu where some of the most productive farm land on the island blesses the Earth. We met with Larry Jefts, owner of Sugarland Farms, which is the largest producer of fresh produce in the state. They grow 80% of the state's tomatoes. Larry shared that Sugarland is now the largest producer of bananas in the United States and that 100% of what they grow (all produce) is sold within the state. That's amazing!


Remaining in the Kunia area, we took a swing through the Kunia Ag Park, which fellow classmate Lisa Zeman manages. It is a new partnership with Monsanto and the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation. Lisa took us to a few sites farmed by small farmers, most of whom are just getting started or were displaced and in need of a new site.


Our final stop for the day was at the Sumida watercress farm in the heart of urban Honolulu. ALP alumnus and former ALFH board member, John McHugh, told us about the history of the farm and agriculture in this part of the island. He shared some of the challenges they face and the innovations they made through research to reduce use of synthetic pesticides. Seeing the spring-fed watercress paddies was refreshing. We look forward to eating some of the watercress tomorrow night!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Seminar 7 O'ahu - Day 1

It seems like just yesterday that we were driving through hog farms in North Carolina. Yet here we are, on the island of O'ahu, gathered for the last seminar of our program. We began our first day with the presentations of Capstone projects. The range of projects was very diverse, just like the class. While most people chose projects that they worked on alone, some worked in groups of 2 to 4. The projects included:

- organizing and conducting a "beef summit" on local finished grass fed beef
- developing a land-link database on Maui for landowners and farmers
- developing a web-based app for pesticide information accessible to the public
- recreating the ALFH website and creating a new alumni section
- establishing trials for cover crops to be used for animal feed
- making the cultivation of taro profitable
- creating a food hub in Kakaako
- studying Acacia production in Vietnam and comparing it to the potential in Hawaii
- identifying the need for a multi-disciplinary agriculture program for high school students and teachers
- framing a business plan for starting a cut flower and potted plant orchid operation
- studying the potential of fertilizer made of fish cuttings in Kona

Sydney explained the challenges that the beef summit team faced.

Tyler shared his cultural exchange in Vietnam. Apparently he found a fitting role as king.

Elton shared the hard numbers of starting an orchid business. It is not for someone wanting a quick return on investment.

After the presentations, we went to Y Hata, Inc. on Sand Island to learn about the family-run food delivery business that recently celebrated 100 years of operation and tremendous growth.  Russell Hata, Jim Clemens, and Margo Sakazaki shared their insights into the business, which is developing an expanded restaurant cash and carry business. Chef Zone will open in October of this year -- can't wait to see it!



Our last official stop was at the Marine Education and Training Center on Sand Island to see the double-hulled long distance voyaging canoes, Hokule'a, Hikianalia, and Hawai'i Loa. Fellow classmate Miki Tomita talked about the canoes and the Worldwide Voyage, which Hokule'a and Hikianalia will embark on this weekend.

The unofficial last stop was at the famous La Mariana restaurant. Those who didn't go truly missed out on a trip back in time!