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Farming Values

Food Security is the ability to acquire locally produced food that is safe and nutritious in a socially ethical way.

Almost 221,834 individuals (19.2%) of Hawai`i residents live in food insecure households; 53,384 in hungry households; Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos are disproportionately affected; the highest risk food insecure community is Wai’anae at (33.2%); and only 22% of food insecure households (in 2000) received any food stamp assistance. Food Insecurity is associated with poorer self-reported physical and mental health, higher levels of obesity, diabetes, and arthritis. Many of these conditions are due to the lack of locally available healthy foods, as well as the consumption of less nutritious food choices. Wai`anae’s two major health clinics fight a constant battle to remedy diet-related health problems using both Western, alternative and Hawaiian medical techniques. And yet this is not our community’s history. Wai‘anae was once a self-sufficient region that was able to produce adequate amounts of food while managing its land and water resources in a highly sustainable manner.

To empower our community and work for a more self-reliant and sustainable Hawai‘i, the Wai‘anae Community Re-Development Corporation (WCRC) created the MA‘O Community Food Security Initiative. MA‘O is the acronym for mala ‘ai ‘opio, which translates as ‘the youth food garden’, a movement to develop a comprehensive and living local food system—educating youth, fighting hunger, improving health and nutrition, growing the organic agriculture industry—to empower our community to move towards self-sufficiency. Interconnected economic development and educational projects have been established to achieve this mission, including:

  • MA‘O Organic Farms, a 16-acre certified organic farm, producing and selling many different varieties of high-quality organic fruits and vegetables.
  • ‘Ai Pohaku Workshop, a hands-on, culturally based program at Wai‘anae Intermediate that nurtures youth and families through traditional Hawaiian agriculture and food practices.
  • Ka‘aihonua, a hands-on, learning organic garden at Wai‘anae High School that studies contemporary agriculture science in the context of traditional Hawaiian culture and knowledge.
  • Youth Leadership Training, a hands-on, entrepreneurial–agricultural–educational leadership experience in which interns will earn an Associate of Arts degree from Leeward Community College.
  • Wai‘anae Organic Ag Center, a partnership with Leeward Community College and U.S. Department of HUD to establish and expand expertise in the fields of tropical organic agriculture.

A Commitment to our Values
Our core values support and sustain the our CFS Initiative:

  • EA: To build on individual and community assets to create new local jobs and local businesses, increasing our capacity to be self-sufficient;
  • KAKO‘O: To provide diverse experiences and opportunities, which mentor, educate and employ, where creativity and expression are nurtured;
  • KOKUA: To promote diverse cooperative approaches to work and business that build community connections;
  • ‘OHANA: To work with the entire ‘ohana for optimum individual, family and community health; and
  • HO‘OMALU: To encourage and live by Hawaiian values which build a peaceful community.