Looking For ‘Kaua‘i Grown’ Label

“For economic development, buying local is probably the single most important thing anyone can do,” says Kaua’i County Councilman Gary Hooser, who also is chairman of the Economic Development Committee that includes agriculture and sustainability. “Buying Kaua’i Grown products increases awareness and keeps our farmers farming.”

Kaua’i Grown is an initiative of the County of Kaua’i and Kaua’i County Farm Bureau that promotes locally grown agricultural products and recognizes the farmers, ranchers, food artisans, retailers and restaurants that bring these products to the consumer. Established in 2009, Kaua’i Grown now has more than 50 members.

On June 6, Hooser, along with Office of Economic Development director George Costa and Kaua’i County Farm Bureau executive administrator Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, unveiled four retailers that feature a Kaua’i Grown section.

“Our goal is to help customers easily find Kaua’i Grown products, and to also recognize the farmers behind the products,” says McFerrin-Warrack.

At Ishihara Market in Waimea, Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. acknowledged Duane Shimogawa of Aakukui Ranch. Besides Shimogawa’s grass-fed beef, Ishihara sells Kaua’i Shrimp, Kaneshiro Farms pork, locally caught fish, poke, local poi and produce.

“The county is proud to be a partner in Kaua’i Grown,” says the mayor. “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.”

Sueoka Store in Koloa sells local produce, Kaneshiro Farms pork, Aakukui Ranch grass-fed beef, Nanas Bananas, Kaua’i Coffee, Rainbow Sprouts, Kaua’i Farms eggs and other products that take part in the Kaua’i Grown program.

Living Foods Market & Cafe carries Kaua’i Fresh Farms produce, Kilauea Greens from Kailani Farms, and it has an open-door policy with local farmers. Monkeypod Jam and Hawaiian Organic Noni products are sold at the Wednesday Kaua’i Culinary Market as well as at Living Foods.

At Papaya’s Natural Foods & Cafe in Kapaa, Hooser and Costa acknowledge owner Jessica Leech and employee Chelsea Januszewski, who were instrumental in designing the Papaya’s Kaua’i Grown section. Marta and Ned Whitlock of Moloaa Organicaa and Jaime Means of Shamma Farms also are there, because Papaya’s carries their vibrant produce.

“Kaua’i Grown is an absolute necessity to identify the large amount of locally grown products that we carry,” says Leech. “Melissa (McFerrin-Warrack) has been really helpful in creating customized signs for what we carry.”

Members of the Kaua’i Grown program pay a nominal fee ($50 per farm or product line, $75 per retail or restaurant location) and receive a substantial marketing effort backed by the county and administered by the farm bureau.

Membership includes use of the Kaua’i Grown logo, a Web presence, promotional material and support, listing in the Kaua’i Grown directory, advertising and participation in Kaua’i Grown events.

Husband Dan and I are Kaua’i Grown members (for our monthly culinary tours) and we provide content for each member’s page on Kauaigrown.org. Recently, we went to Kaua’i Farms to shoot a video of Mark Beeksma and his free-range chicken farm, which you can read about in this week’s Farmers Markets column (Page 16). Along with a short video, each member’s webpage includes five photographs, a bio and a listing of locations where their products are sold.

“We hope the Kaua’i Grown program grows in a circular way because we’d like to see more farm products in our stores and restaurants,” says Beth Tokioka, County of Kaua’i director of communications. “That way, we get more land in agriculture and more locally grown food on our plates.”

Thanks to the Kaua’i Grown program, it’s easy to buy local. If you are interested in learning about Kauai’s exceptional farmers, food artisans, retail outlets and restaurants, or would like to become a Kaua’i Grown member, visit KauaiGrown.org.

Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.