Food for Thought
If you love food, then you’ve probably already gathered it’s not just about knowing where to find good food –it’s also understanding where good food comes from. This year, the Maui County Agricultural Festival is paring together 12 chef-and-farmer teams to not only prepare mouthwatering dishes, but to also educate the community with a holistic understanding of local agriculture. Molokai homesteaders Lynn and Russell DeCoite of L&R Farm will represent the Friendly Isle at the upcoming festival’s Grand Taste Education this year.
The DeCoites were selected to participate in the event by Humuhumunukunukuapua`a restaurant Chef Isaac Bancaco of the Grand Wailea, who orders sweet potatoes for his menu directly from L & R Farm. One of the festival’s aims is to highlight the relationship between chefs, local farmers, and patrons, according to event organizer Charlene Ka`uhane.
“The focus is always to showcase what is locally grown in Maui County, so the chefs need to use a main ingredient in a new and exciting way,” said Ka`uhane.
Chef Bancaco and the DeCoites will be serving Molokai sweet-potato andagi — Okinawan deep-fried donuts – with milkshakes sweetened with locally-produced honey, according to Ka`uhane.
“It’s an honor and a privilege, first of all,” said Lynn. “They could have selected someone else, but they selected us so it means a great deal for myself and my family.”
Ka`uhane said it was very important that the entire County of Maui be represented at the Agricultural Festival.
“We want to be able to showcase what the county has in terms of agricultural businesses, and we want to offer farmers the opportunity to showcase what they grow to the general public,” she said.
The DeCoites own sweet potato farm L&R Farm, as well as V-8 Ranch in Ho`olehua. Lynn is a third generation sweet potato farmer, currently growing the staple Molokai Purple Sweet Potato variety her grandmother developed in 1978.
In addition to running her two businesses, Lynn was recently appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the state Board of Agriculture’s Maui County seat.
Her goals for her new position include “promot[ing] agriculture in its fullest,” with special regard to sustainable commercial farming, she said. “We need to educate people about why we support farming and the economy, and how we can improve it.”
Lynn and her family are currently preparing for the festival, which will take place at Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu on Saturday, April 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Coffees of Hawaii and Kumu Farms will also represent Molokai in the farmer’s market portion of the festival.
Lynn said she and Russell are excited to see what’s in store at this year’s festival. “It’s very important for local businesses to share their story so other people can say, ‘If she can do it, why can’t we?’”
For any local vendors or farmers who would like to participate in next year’s festival, visit mauicountyfarmbureau.org.