Shopping for locally grown food and agricultural products is becoming easier, thanks to local retail establishments that are embracing the Kaua'i Grown program.
Four retailers this week unveiled a new “Kaua'i Grown” section in their stores, highlighting local agricultural products and the farmers and ranchers behind them: Ishihara Market (Waimea), Sueoka Store (Koloa), Living Foods Market (Po'ipu), and Papayas (Kapa'a).
Kaua'i Grown is an initiative of the County of Kaua'i and the Kaua'i County Farm Bureau that promotes locally grown agricultural products and recognizes the farmers, ranchers, retailers, and restaurants that bring these products to the consumer.
Established in 2009, Kaua'i Grown now has more than 50 members representing agricultural producers, retailers and restaurants.
"The County is proud to be partner in Kaua'i Grown,” stated Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., who attended the rollout at Ishihara Market this morning. "This program is going to help us make big strides in our effort to become food self-sufficient, and to help farming become economically viable on Kaua'i."
The mayor, members of the Kaua'i County Council, and representatives of the Kaua'i Grown program participated in a rollout ceremony at each store, acknowledging store owners and managers, and some of the farmers whose products are being featured, then participating in a tour of the retailer’s Kaua'i Grown section.
Jerry Ornellas, a Kaua'i farmer who is a member of Kaua'i Grown, says the rollout was a significant step in the quest for food self-sufficiency.
"We can talk all day about sustainability and food security, but at the end of the day, if there’s no action, we’ve achieved nothing. This rollout and the retailers who are stepping up are taking action – and that’s what we need right now," said Ornellas.
Kaua'i County Farm Bureau Executive Administrator Melissa McFerrin added, "Our goal is to help customers easily find Kauai Grown products, and to also recognize the farmers behind the products. Connecting farmers with consumers is our overarching goal."
Point of purchase materials that are being utilized in the retail outlets were developed with the assistance of a Communities Putting Partnership to Work grant that was provided to the farm bureau from Get Fit Kaua'i.
"It's very exciting to be able to support the Kaua'i Grown program for several reasons," stated Get Fit Kaua'i’s Director, Bev Brody. "Buying local food not only supports local farmers and families, it also builds community, preserves open space, reduces the carbon footprint AND it's so healthy! The shorter time between the farm and your table the less likely that nutrients will be lost. Kaua'i Grown is a great win-win program for all!"