KILAUEA — Yoshito L’Hote, executive director of ‘Aina Ho‘okupu o Kilauea and the president of the Kilauea Neighborhood Association, had a dream which came a step closer to reality Sunday in a cleared lot in Kilauea.
“Without his vision and drive, this community agricultural center would still be a dream,” said Catherine Steinmann, an attendedee at the dedication. “Mr. L’Hote thanked everyone in the community for their efforts and support in helping to make Kilauea’s dream come true.”
The sound of the pu, blown by Alvin “Bino” Castello, a board member for ‘Aina Ho‘okupu o Kilauea, roused nene as Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua and members of Halau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai proceeded with the dedication of the earth, fields, and people who were bound to the property by the strand of ti leaf lei.
“Seventy-five acres of prime farmland, ceded by the county to the community-based not-for-profit organization is a great example of the way a partnership should work between government and private sector communities,” said Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. “This should serve as a model for many more public-private undertakings, not only on Kauai, but throughout the state, and around the country.”
The dedication marked three decades of work and attended by more than 150 people.
“The inauguration of the agricultural center has long been seen by the community as the beginning of a way to augment the local economy, and equally importantly, to develop and safeguard its ability to feed its residents,” said Tom Pickett, a Kilauea businessman and secretary of the Kilauea Neighborhood Association. “The agricultural center will have both individual plots in the community garden as well as larger prime lots in the greater farm acreage. To date, 12 of the 72 acres have been cleared and planted with a cover crop, awaiting the arrival of the surface water source to start plantings.”
L’Hote said the group, ‘Aina Ho‘okupu o Kilauea, is just implementing the county’s Master Plan.
“I was taken in as hanai by David and Linda Sproat,” L’Hote said. “Johnny Ahana, a papaya farmer, was pushing hard to get this land to the public. He died. A lot of the farmers are dying, so we said we need to do this before we’re all gone.”