Vincent Mina Stirs Up Excitement for Local Ag

January 5, 2011, 7:33 PM HST · Updated January 6, 6:47 PM
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By Katie McMillan

Can local agriculture on Maui thrive? With what appears to be an abundance of natural plant life and fruit trees, why do so many stores carry produce from other parts of the world?

Maui Now sat down with Vincent Mina, Director of the upcoming Body and Soil Conference, taking place on January 14th, 15th, and 16th at Kumulani Organic Vegetable Farm in Olinda. We asked him about the upcoming conference and how it plays a part in creating a viable agriculture community on Maui.

“Body and Soil is not just a farming conference,” states Mina. “We are bringing some of the world’s leading soil and nutrition experts to Maui to share the latest research on how producing healthy produce produces healthy people. These presentations offer the backyard gardener, business owner, farmer, and anyone interested in diet and health the opportunity to learn the latest scientific research and practices for optimal health and soil cultivation.”

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Mina produced his first Body and Soil Conference in 2001 and it has been a popular annual event on Maui ever since. “People travel from all over the world to attend this conference, showcasing Maui as a leader in sustainable agriculture,” states Mina.

The 2011 conference brings a “who’s who” of soil and nutrition experts to Maui including Dr. Tom Cowan, former Vice President of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine and board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Tom will be presenting three talks on the heart, cancer and GAPS auto immune diseases.

Also, Peter Hirst of New England Biochar will discuss how Biochar can be used on Hawaii soils to help reduce acidity, a problem faced by many farmers growing on Hawaii’s young volcanic earth.

A full list of speakers can be found by going to: http://www.mauialohaaina.org/2011-body-soil-conference/

“The Body and Soil Conference is an event where social magic happens. Important connections are made with like-minded individuals who are concerned about health for our earth and our bodies. The experience is like no other, outside in nature, on a working organic farm, and we feature meals with some of the best produce Maui has to offer,” states Mina.

For more details and to register for this event go to: www.mauialohaaina.org.

In preparation for the Body and Soil Conference, Maui Now also conducted an informal Facebook survey, asking local residents the following questions:

Do you think it is important and/or possible for Maui to grow its own food? Should we make programs that support small farmers a priority? Are there any laws, in particular, that need to be changed in order for local agriculture to thrive?

“Why do we need government programs? The free market can do its own thing. Programs are what have given us a subsidized cane and pineapple industry, which cannot survive on its own. If the Maui marketplace can sustain a homegrown food supply, then one will develop as the large corporate landowners find other uses for their land such as sales or leases to farmer entrepreneurs who want to take the plunge. Leave my limited tax dollars where they belong: to pay for necessary public services.”—Stephen Frederick

“I think in order for Maui to survive, it must grow it’s own food. For such a beautiful island with the most perfect climate for growing almost anything, it’s almost insane to think the lemons in the supermarket are tasteless old lemons from California. I always buy local over organic. It’s fresher and is full of the volcanic minerals of Maui s soil.
I think Maui could be a huge American based exporter or all fruits, vegetables and nuts. I dream of a day when Maui becomes the world-renowned organic produce supplier. If we could replace sugar cane with edible foods, the people of the islands would thrive and be alive as they get more affordable foods.” —Maui Yoga

Any person actively farming should be automatically granted a no hassle permit to allow visitors to stay on the farm. This is a win win. Visitors end up being the “program to support local farms.” Visitors benefit from an authentic agriculture tourism experience and neighborhoods remain unchanged since agriculture lots are generally two acres or more.”—Liam Ball

“The future of agriculture is in small privately owned diversified farms serving people in neighborhoods. Multinational corporations, such as Monsanto and Kraft, cannot stop the tide of self-sufficient farms serving people for better health, economy, and environment. Find those farmers who are working, free of corporate tyranny. The changes are not immediate, but future generations will thank you. Also, there are no laws to my knowledge stopping people from farming. Folks need to get off their behinds, rally resources, have a realistic vision, and go to work.” —Patrick Moser

“Secure the right to sell local grown food at a county level; legalize farm stands so that they can sell produce from farms other that the land that the farm stand is located on (yes, this is a law); make it possible to legally sell venison (huge local and available food source, stops deforestation which helps with rainfall); change the water rates and laws to encourage conservation and incent local food production; take .01% of the tax breaks given to agribusiness and subsidize and incentivize the local food producers; force government contractors to buy a percentage of their food locally (like the MEBE WEBE laws); force the USDA to provide Maui county with an agriculture inspector (we currently do not have one and have to pay for them); and allow farmers to have farm worker housing on their land.”—Lynn Flaming

“There is an amazing community of people committed to sustainable agriculture on Maui. Lots of politics regarding land to navigate to be sure, but whenever I fly over Maui I know there is plenty of land for every person on Maui to be fed by our own locally grown food.”—Carlita Tohtz

The Social Scene covers island buzz—from people and parties to the chitter chatter of what people are talking about on Facebook and Twitter. Send your Social Scene tips to [email protected]

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