Save O'ahu Farmlands - Protest and March
This Tuesday, Februrary 21, farmers from across O'ahu will send ten farm tractors on flatbed trucks to circle through the city throughout the lunch hour to protest the loss of farmlands. Two large farms that produce 40% of our locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables are under grave threat of urbanization for the Ho'opili and Koa Ridge projects. Others in Wai'anae and Kahuku-Laie are also in great danger. Farmers know that if these lands are lost, no farm is safe. This "Protest of the Farm Tractors," sponsored by Save O'ahu Farmlands Alliance, is to make the public aware of this crisis.
On the following Saturday, February 25, the Save O'ahu Farmlands Rally, March, and Farm Festival will take place at Kaka'ako Waterfront Parks, starting with the Rally at 9:00 a.m., and ending at 2:00 p.m. Speakers and entertainers for the rally will be announced soon. Please plan to attend and show your support for saving the farms! Please forward this to all your friends. More background information is found below this poster.
Within ninety days the Land Use Commission will decide on the possible urbanization for both the Ho’opili and Koa Ridge projects. The farms that would be taken by Ho’opili and Koa Ridge produce about 40% of all of the locally grown vegetables and fruits we currently eat. We cannot afford to lose either. As it is, with only a week’s supply of food on the island, we are daring a calamity to strike. We will need these lands to survive, should we ever be cut off from suppliers across the ocean.
The Ho'opili property is the highest producing farmland in the state. Some maintain it is the highest producing land in the world. In most places, because of winter season, they can only grow one crop a year. We have year round growing here, but in many areas with rich soil, like Waimanalo, they can only grow two crops a year because it rains so much. Crops need sunshine. In places like Koa Ridge in higher central Oahu, the frequent overcast skies limit them to three crops a year. But the lower 'Ewa plains, with abundant year-round sunshine, warm breezes, and clean irrigation water, produce four crops a year.
It's bad enough that the developer plans to cover this 1555 acres of farmland with houses, but that's not all. The rich farm soil is clay, and expands and contracts with water, so it cracks house foundations. The developer will come in and scrape off four feet of this precious soil, cart it away, and replace it with four feet of coral, which will support the houses, forever preventing future generations from reclaiming the land. These are all facts which we are using in our case at the State Land Use Commission, trying to save the Ho'opili and Koa Ridge farmlands.
You can find out more about our Alliance and efforts at www.SaveOahuFarmlands.com
A few nights ago, I received a call from T.C. Yim. He was a powerhouse in the State Legislature when I came to Hawai'i as a young man in 1971. He's now 89 years old. I couldn't believe he was calling me. I'd never spoken to him before. He had just seen a program we produced on 'Olelo Community Television about the need to save our farmlands. During the show we mentioned the Rally on September 25. He was calling to find out more about Save O'ahu Farmlands Alliance and the Rally. He said he was so happy to hear that we had an alliance where all those interested in saving farmland could work together. He had become quite a reader in old age, usually reading for four or five hours a day, always trying to understand better the bigger picture of what was happening in the world, and how it affected us here in Hawai'i. In recent years, he had realized that the world is running out of oil at a time when China and India are developing ever greater needs for it, and that the price of oil can only continue to rise, eventually making it too expensive to import food. He has come to realize that the two greatest needs we in Hawai'i will have in the future will be for food and fuel, and that we must act now to become sufficient in both. He will be there at the Rally on February 25, and I will introduce him to the crowd.
It should also be noted that there has been a real sea-change in the last couple of years. When we started working on this in 2008, we were alone, David fighting Goliath. No one cared. But there has been a revolution in consciousness. Down to Earth started building big stores; another opens today. Costco started buying local produce. Markets started competing in advertising for having the most locally grown fruits and vegetables.. KANU Hawaii suddenly mushroomed to 6000 active members pledging to eat better. A recent poll showed that the majority of people will pay more for locally grown. Consciousness that we are losing our best farmlands has also finally been picked up by the media. The Star-Advertiser published an editorial against the Ho'opili development. And word is getting to the politicians. Thirty-seven representatives signed a bill at the legislature to double our food production in twenty years. Yesterday, the City Council voted to make it possible that the Ho'opili and Koa Ridge properties will stay in food farming forever, if we win our case at the Land Use Commission.
Save O’ahu Farmlands Alliance is a group of roughly fifty pro-environment, pro-farm, and Hawaiian organizations, another fifty individual farmers and activists, and about 1100 additional members we reach with regular e-mail updates. We have been working for many months to raise public consciousness and roust people to action. We have created website (www.SaveOahuFarmlands.org), written numerous articles and Letters to the Editor, produced or appeared on a variety of television shows that are repeatedly shown on ‘Olelo, produced Public Service Announcements, appeared on radio programs, printed a T-shirt and sold hundreds of them at Farmers’ Markets across the island, developed and passed out thousands of flyers, and have more than 5000 signatures on our petition. All of the organizations in our Save O’ahu Farmlands Alliance are working together to get a large crowd to the rally. Collectively we have over 50,000 e-mail contacts.
Please call Dr. Kioni Dudley at 672-8888 or Cinnie Frith at 262-0878 if you have other questions.