Letters for Thursday, July 3, 2008

• From denial to action

• Section of highway in need of attention

From denial to action

As residents of Kaua‘i and the stewards of this unique paradise, we can no longer deny the rapidly developing problem called the “food crisis.” It is not only global, it is also local and increasing daily.

Our island is heavily dependent on imported food. Approximately 90 percent of what we eat arrives by ship or plane. The cost of our food is increasing dramatically due to the combined rising costs of production and shipping. This is producing cost of living increases that are forcing an out-migration of vitally needed workers, including farmers and farm help.

The spiraling impact of these factors means less locally grown food and more imported food at rising costs.

Adding to the problem are alarming rumors about impending food shortages due to the loss of viable farm land in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Numerous other factors are all adding fuel to the fire, such as water shortages, rising world population and the impact of natural disasters on crop production.

We can no longer comfort ourselves with a naive belief that the crisis will not impact Kaua‘i. The crisis has already arrived. It is time for responsible action to reduce the impact.

What can be done? Perhaps the better question is “What is being done and how can we all help?”

Here is one answer:

The Community Gardens Project was formed several months ago by the Kauai Food Industry Forum, a proactive group sponsored by several businesses and community agencies. This project is forming neighborhood gardens in the seven major districts of Kaua‘i and also encouraging home gardens. This project has several benefits to our island:

• It engages residents in producing food (fruits, vegetables and herbs as a start) for themselves and other members of the neighborhood.

• It employs the knowledge and expertise of successful local farmers and University-level resources.

• The expert guidance provided ensures greater levels of productivity and fewer problems with bugs, disease and other pests.

• It delivers fresh, organic and wholesome food at less cost and greater convenience.

• It strengthens our local economy rather than sending our dollars to large agricultural enterprises in the Mainland.

• It builds community spirit and encourages responsible participation in solving our own problems.

• It helps to reconnect our families with the “real” source of our food supply and with our responsibility to the environment.

What can you do to help?

• Join a neighborhood group as a volunteer gardener for a few hours a week (3-4 hours is fine).

• Assist with planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and distribution.

• Help to locate new parcels of suitable land (small plots, and back-yard areas are fine).

• If you are already skilled in farming and/or gardening techniques, then join the training and technical assistance team to help neighborhood groups to plan and implement new gardens successfully.

• If you are too busy to help, make a small or large cash contribution. Funds are needed for soil testing, restoration, nutrients, seeds, irrigation, training programs and many other uses.

If you want more information, give me a call at Kauai Community College, 246-4859.

I can link you up with other folks in your neighborhood who have similar interests or provide you with references to help you start your own backyard “food pantry” (closer than your grocery store, more fun and good exercise).

The growing crisis can be averted. We can grow enough food for everyone.

Let’s put the gardens back into operation on the Garden Island.

Glenn Hontz

KCC campus garden manager, Koloa

Section of highway in need of attention

Being a resident and a business owner on the North Shore for 20 years, I have noticed an escalating lack of diligence and an extraordinary degree of negligence and disregard for the safety of those who traverse the stretch of Kuhio Highway from Kilauea to Princeville. It appears that the divisions of highways, be it county, state or federal departments, seem to be blinking their eyes in noticing the appalling state of disrepair the road is in. My ability to concentrate on the traffic becomes secondary to anticipating the lurking conditions of the highway that have become a maze of obstacles.

We, as tax paying drivers, are expected to keep our automobiles in compliance of safety, assume the responsibility of obtaining annual safety inspections and provide insurance coverage. I find it incomprehensible that more diligence is not equally reflected in the efforts to maintain a safe environment and medium on which we drive.

Traveling on this stretch of highway is a challenge in broad daylight — try traversing this death defying obstacle course at night. One might as well drive blindfolded and hope that you will reach your destination riding on the few remaining reflective dots that are supposed to divide the right and left sides of the highway.

The frosting on the cake was approximately six months ago when this stretch of Kuhio Highway, in someone’s infinite wisdom and wasteful thought, was striped from Kilauea to Princeville, painting over the disfigured asphalt and numerous pot holes. These pot holes are sporadically unevenly filled, only to be undermined and become worse with every rain. The replacement stripes are less than straight and appear to have been applied with a runaway painter dodging the pot holes himself.

High accolades are not due those who decided to repave the perfectly unscathed stretch of highway from Anahola to Kilauea in the last four months.

Traveling this stretch of highway has become quite a challenge. I am compelled to share my concerns in an effort to forewarn all who travel this “gateway to impending disaster.” Beware of the life threatening road that lies in front of you.

In closing, I would like to know who will step up to the plate and take responsibility for the imminent accidents and/or deaths that are becoming increasingly more inevitable. Who will contest their responsibility to ensure our island drivers the cushion of safety we not only deserve but expect. To all who travel this poorly maintained “Asphalt Jungle” on the way to our otherwise beautiful North Shore, beware.

Terry Caplan



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