Agricultural conference aim: Grow more food here

LIHUE — A network connecting Kauai’s agricultural players could be the next step toward self-sustaining food production, and today kicks off a three-day conference exploring the idea.

The Verizon Ag Network Workshop will present the idea of food hubs and interconnectivity to Kauai’s local food producers.

“The whole idea is to integrate our island,” said Marjorie Gifford, director of ‘Aina Ho’okupu O Kilauea, “to provide ongoing communication with a program so foods can be grown and utilized on the island and the excess can be shipped out.”

Verizon representatives will meet with distributors like Esaki’s and the Kauai Growers Exchange, large-scale ag operations like Grove Farm and Dupont Pioneer, as well as independent and smaller farms. It is offering to make Kauai a demonstration of how its services can be used to provide streamline communications and accomplish that goal.

“We’re hoping to get enough interest islandwide so everything will be integrated,” Gifford said.

Food hubs are centralized gathering and processing facilities that could include things like community kitchens and mobile slaughter and storage facilities.

They would be strategically located throughout the island and would be connected by a program that logs the consumer needs on the island as well as the level of production from the agriculture sector.

“We don’t want to have six different people out there planting six different fields of corn with not enough people to eat it,” Gifford said. “With this, everybody will know what everyone else is doing so they can see where the need is.”

Information on food hubs will be presented to representatives from sectors of Kauai’s agriculture industry in the mornings.

Verizon, Kauai County and event sponsor representatives will spend the three afternoons of the conference traveling to farms and agriculture operations.

“The afternoons are to show the Verizon representatives the extent of what we already have available, some of the things that are already there,” Gifford said.

Kauai Shrimp Farm, Kauai Coffee, Moloa’a Organica, Kilauea Community Ag Center, Grove Farm and Kealia Farms are all on the three-day agenda.

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