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Planting Seeds for the Future

Before Western contact, Native Hawaiians were able to feed a population of one million while following a sustainable way of life, according to the documentary, “Na Kupu Mana`olana — Seeds of Hope.” But in the last 50 years alone, half of Hawaiian farmland has been developed and today, 85 percent of the state’s food is imported.

“We are currently in a crisis,” said Robert Harris, director of Sierra Club Hawaii, in the documentary.

The film, produced by The Hawaii Rural Development Council (HRDC), premiered on Molokai at Kalaniana`ole Hall Saturday night. It highlighted the state’s agricultural evolution and the unsustainable challenges we’re currently facing as a community. Several topics included a growing financial addiction to mainland imports as well as chemical and genetically modified agriculture industries, and the dissipation of natural resources and traditional farming methods.

After the film, attendees were able to talk story with a panel of speakers including Glenn Teves, Jack Spruance, Alan Murakami and Walter Ritte. The discussion called for Molokai to return to their roots of once being able to produce enough food to sustain the entire state of Hawaii.

“Of all the different islands, our heritage says that we are food producers,” said Walter Ritte. “This is the island that could feed not only ourselves, but other islands when they went to war. We should be feeding the state of Hawaii and we have the resources to do that.”

The event—organized by the MOM Hui and supported by several sustainability advocate organizations such as HRDC, Molokai Community Service Council, OLA Molokai, and Hawaii SEED—brought out more than 50 community members and visitors.

“It went way better than we expected,” said Mercy Ritte, event organizer. “I felt very pleased with the turnout and the good dialogue between the community and our panelists.”

In the future, Mercy Ritte said she plans to host smaller events for homesteaders and further promote food security and sustainability on Molokai.

“This is where I’m from, this is where I raise my kids, and everything we do is about protecting this place,” said Hanohano Naehu, moderator of the event. “If we can fight for love and protect this place, then I’m leaving something for my kids. I’m leaving something for my descendants.”


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