At the Nov. 3 Maui Homestead Summit, Mae Nakahata (from left) of the Maui County Farm Bureau says peaches are a viable crop for Upcountry farmers. Panelists include Ka‘eo Ornellas and Kekoa Enomoto of event host Pa‘upena Community Development Corporation; Warren Watanabe of the farm bureau, and Puanani Danner of SCHHA, or Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations. Danner urged Maui to initiate a bill for a state agricultural strategic plan; such proposed legislation “should come from Maui no ka ‘oi,” said the Anahola, Kaua‘i, homesteader. - Photo: Guy Gaumont

Farmers and lawmakers planted the idea of a state agricultural strategic plan at last month’s Maui Homestead Summit in Upcountry Maui. Some 100 participants convened for the inaugural daylong event Nov. 3 at He Piko No Waiohuli community center at Waiohuli Hawaiian homestead

“Hawaiians need to hear the important messages that were shared,” said attendee Robert Masters of 808 Building Supplies & Solutions, who called the summit “a wonderful event…so educational.”

The Upcountry nonprofit Pa‘upena Community Development Corp. (CDC) hosted the summit featuring a panel with Maui legislators Kyle Yamashita and Troy Hashimoto, Hawai‘i Farmers Union United Maui spokesman Vincent Mina, and Maui County Farm Bureau representatives Warren Watanabe and Mae Nakahata. Besides a state agriculture strategic plan, panelists discussed the possibility of a homestead ag/ranching round table with legislators before or during the 2019 legislative session.

Also, Hashimoto introduced the concept of a Heritage Farming Families initiative, like the State Historic Sites program.

“I look forward to working and speaking with you again in the future,” affirmed Rep. Hashimoto of the multigenerational Hashimoto persimmon-growing family in Kula.

The purpose of the Maui Homestead Summit was to engage, inform and empower Hawaiian beneficiaries of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) federal trust and the community at large on ag/ranching-related topics, and on and their mutual rights, benefits and kuleana, or responsibilities, under the HHCA. The free event offered giveaways of taro shoots to plant, medicinal teas, a kalo tasting, and an evening pa‘ina (party) with food and entertainment.

Pa‘upena CDC co-sponsored the Maui Homestead Summit with the SCHHA, or Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations. Pa‘upena CDC’s mission is to provide resources and training to empower fellow Hawaiian Homes trust beneficiaries to build homes and self-sufficient communities; see website SCHHA is the oldest and largest coalition of homestead associations unified to protect and advocate for the interests of beneficiaries of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.