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.
Old age caught up long ago with a group of farmers working 87 acres in East Honolulu’s Kamilo Nui Valley, and now the rent they pay to lease the land is about to catch up after four decades.
Kamehameha Schools recently notified its 13 farm tenants in the agrarian Hawaii Kai neighborhood that it is seeking a roughly 25-fold increase in rent.
The trust, Hawaii’s largest private landowner, believes the offer is fair given that the farmers have to date been paying rent set in the early 1970s, and that the farm leases call for rent to be reset now for the 15 years remaining on the leases.
But many of the farmers, some of whom are in their 80s, say they cannot handle such a drastic hike, especially at their age and with the economy the way it is.
KAHULUI – Environmentalists and farmers lashed out Thursday night at the announced layoffs of state agricultural inspectors, arguing that the move planned by the Lingle administration would uproot efforts to preserve the island’s agricultural industry and pristine environment.
Close to 100 people turned out at a Senate Ad Hoc Committee meeting held in the Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria. The crowd applauded those who spoke against the layoffs, some even attacking Gov. Linda Lingle.
From Jeffrey Parker and Masako Cordray Westcott of the Hawaii Agriculture & Conservation Coalition
Emergency Senate Hearing on the Dept of Agriculture layoffs – please testimony today!
Thursday, Sept 3rd, 5-9pm, Maui Waena School, 795 Onehee Ave, Kahului
Positions targeted to balance state budget
By ILIMA LOOMIS, Staff Writer
POSTED: August 30, 2009
PUKALANI – Plant quarantine officials said last week that laying off more than half the state’s agricultural inspectors would create such a logjam at Hawaii ports that it could cause shortages similar to those seen during shipping strikes.
Carol Okada, manager of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch, said she has not been able to develop a plan for how her department will continue its core functions after it loses 52 employees, 50 of them inspectors, to layoffs planned for November.
She said food shipments to Maui and the other Neighbor Islands, which because of staff shortages would now have to be routed through Honolulu for inspection, would have to sit on the docks until the state’s remaining inspectors could look at them, with the risk that some food could spoil in the unchilled containers.
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
Budget cuts have left California with fewer inspectors and made that state more prone to slap sanctions on importers when pests are discovered. Hawai’i may also lose inspectors if the state lays off workers in November as planned to balance its budget.
Five key agricultural officials sent a warning letter this month to hundreds of Hawai’i growers and shippers who sell flowers, foliage, herbs, vegetables, potted nursery products and fruit, alerting them to the potential risk of not cleaning up their shipments.
"Anyone that currently ships to California can be the ‘last straw’ that triggers the decision by California to impose severe restrictions on the movement of all products from Hawai’i into the California market," the letter states.
Hawaii Grower Products
400 Lehuakona St
Kahului, HI 96732
fax : 808 871 5432
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Call HGP on Maui NOW at 877-6636 for more details.