April 10, 2015

HIRONO & USDA DEPUTY SECRETARY HARDEN HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF FARMERS ON OAHU

HONOLULU – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden traveled across Oahu, meeting with the next generation of Hawaii farmers and visiting programs working to foster and encourage Hawaii’s growing agricultural economy.

Today, the average farmer in Hawaii is 60 years old. As Hawaii seeks to sustainably grow more food locally and replace its aging agricultural workforce, programs to train our next generation of farmers are critical.

One of the highlights of the day was a visit to “GoFarm Hawaii,” an incubator program and USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers grant recipient through the University of Hawaii, at Leeward Community College, Windward Community College, and Kauai Community College that teaches students the science of farming as well as the economics necessary to market their produce. 

Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden met with coordinators, coaches, and student farmers at “GoFarm Hawaii” at Leeward Community College

Senator Hirono discussed the importance of growing Hawaii’s next generation of farmers at “GoFarm Hawaii”

Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden also visited Kunia Village, a former pineapple plantation, and had a firsthand look at the partnership to grow Hawaii’s agricultural workforce through farmer training programs, leased farmland, production infrastructure, and worker housing. At Kunia Village, the Hawaii Agricultural Research Center, the Pacific Gateway Center, and the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation have teamed up to provide a holistic approach to address Hawaii’s agricultural sustainability.

At Kunia Village, Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden met with Nora Sisounthone, an immigrant farmer in Kunia Village’s training program, and  Tin Myaing Thein of the Pacific Gateway Center

Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden also met with student council representatives, Hawaii Department of Education administrators, and school officials at Liholiho Elementary School to discuss the school lunch program and the importance of locally sourced and healthy lunches for all students. Locally sourced school lunches not only provide students with more nutritious lunches, but also support local farmers.

Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden also visited the school’s garden where they saw a variety of vegetables being grown by students—including beets, which students are harvesting in the photo above.

  

Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden met with the Liholio Elementary School Student Council, Hawaii Department of Education officials, and school officials on the importance of locally sourced school lunches

Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary appeared on KHON and KITV yesterday morning to showcase Hawaii’s unique and diverse agriculture and highlight how partnerships between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Hawaii are so important.   

Today, Senator Hirono and Deputy Secretary Harden will return to Hawaii Island to hear from Kona coffee producers and meet with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the Kona International Airport.