Ka Wai Ola

Robert K. Lindsey, Jr., Trustee, Hawai‘i

Aloha nui kākou! Our aloha to each and every one of you enduring this “safer at home” directive wherever you might be. Please know you are in our prayers as we all endure this together here in Hawaiʻi and abroad.

In Hawaiʻi, we moved from a “producer-based” economy to a “consumer-based” one in less than 100 years. The industrial age was upon us and “technology” was not a word often spoken at home. It did however drive us to find easier and more economical ways of doing things.

Through this COVID-19 situation we are realizing that our honua, our earth, is changing. In Hawaiʻi becoming a “consumer-based” economy may not have helped us really take care of ourselves. However, there may be hope for us to balance our “PRODUCER vs. CONSUMER” economy using the very tool that brought us to where we are today…TECHNOLOGY.

Technology will not take us back in time, but it can be a resource to guide us into the future. Many people believe that technology equates to machinery, but that is not always the case. The actual definition of technology is this: science or knowledge put into practical use to solve problems or invent useful tools. When we understand this concept, we realize that our kūpuna were innovators and used the technology of their day to improve their daily lives. If they could do it, so can we.

We see that many are taking an interest again in gardens. In looking at gardens, two concepts in today’s world are technological advances that can help us. The first is “vertical farming.” For those of us who may not have much space to grow produce in a traditional outside garden, vertical farming may be the way for us to go. In Linly Ku’s article entitled “New Agriculture Technology in Modern Farming,” she states, “Indoor vertical farming can be defined as the practice of growing produce stacked one above another in a closed and controlled environment. By using growing shelves mounted vertically, it significantly reduces the amount of land space needed to grow plants compared to traditional farming methods.”

Another concept is “greenhouse farming.” Some may see greenhouses here in Hawaiʻi and never thought they could do it themselves. Some believe that you need to be a career farmer to do this. The truth is that many who are not career farmers are doing this. They learned how to do it and they have the necessary resources to do it. A few of the “pros” of this type of farming are: increased production, stability, security and the ability to grow produce year-round…even in the off-season. A few of the “cons” might be: the need for a sizeable initial investment, higher production costs and the need for a higher level of skill in farm practices.

We urge our people to look at these two practices. Can one or the other help you in moving forward in our new world? There are resources out there to learn from. The internet does have much to offer in terms of knowledge. Take the time now to search and see what might work for you and your ʻohana.

“PRODUCER VS. CONSUMER?” Which will win out? Will there be a new balance between the two as a result of our situation now? Whatever the case, may we think of each other and move forward together using the best tools and resources we have. “Always with Aloha.”