Ag officials urge buying local for the holidays

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii has a lot of beautiful flowers that are available year-round. But we still think of evergreens and holly when it comes to Christmas decorations.

“I guess we’re kind of conditioned,” said Eric Tanouye, Vice President and General Manager of Green Point Nurseries of Hilo. “We’re all to blame for that. We’re looking for that certain look that maybe we grew up with.

But Hawaii’s agriculture community wants us to consider buying local plants and flowers. “Our locally produced flowers and plants make beautiful arrangements that could be used for holidays. Home settings, entertaining, at the office,” Tanouye said.

Tanouye was among those at the first annual “Buy Local for the Holidays” event Sunday at the Department of Agriculture’s plant quarantine branch facility near Sand Island. Floral designers from around the state were on hand, putting together flower arrangements. The public was also invited to create their own small floral arrangements to take home.

Organizers said there were two big reasons to buy local. First, export orders for Hawaii’s cut flower industry have fallen during the current economic downturn, and buying local would create a homegrown economic stimulus. Second, it would prevent invasive species from entering the state.

“They can be very small, like a spot,” said plant quarantine inspector Glenn Sakamoto. “They can be a plant disease or an insect, and there’s a lot of things that we import. So the reason that we’re having this event is to use local things and less likelihood of invasive pests entering our state.”

It’s not just plants and flowers that you can “buy local.” Agriculture officials also suggest using locally made jams and jellies for gifts, and using local produce, like beef and fruits, for holiday dinners.

“We grow so much beauty in Hawaii, we should take advantage of it and use more of it,” Tanouye said.

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