Maui News

Maui County Farm Bureau Announces 2021 Awards

November 2, 2021, 3:17 PM HST
* Updated November 2, 12:38 PM
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Paula Hegele with MauiWine (right) is pictured with Warren Watanabe, MCFB executive director (left). Photo credit: Steve Brinkman Photography

With the announcement of its 2021 award winners, Maui County Farm Bureau celebrates those members who demonstrate tremendous support for Maui agriculture. This year’s winners are “Member of the Year,” Heidi Watanabe; “Farm Family of the Year,” the Hegele Family; and Mike Lyons Award, Hawaiian Electric Company.

The awards were presented at MCFB’s annual General Membership Meeting held virtually on Thursday, Oct. 14. 

“Member of the Year,” Heidi Watanabe (left) is pictured with Warren Watanabe, MCFB executive director (right). Photo credit: Steve Brinkman Photography

MCFB’s 2021 Member of the Year is Heidi Watanabe. Watanabe has served on the board of MCFB for more than 10 years, and she is currently secretary of both MCFB and Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau. Since May 2020, she has been coordinator of the Farm Product Purchase Program, which buys food from farmers and ranchers at wholesale prices and distributes it to community nonprofit agencies. “With Heidi at the helm, this program has proven to be a win-win for both Maui agriculture and Maui residents, even in these difficult times,” according to the Maui County Farm Bureau.

“Farm Family of the Year,” the Hegele Family. Photo credit: Steve Brinkman Photography

For more than 30 years, the Hegele Family has been a part of Maui County Farm Bureau.

“This year, MCFB is proud to recognize Paula, Roger, Joe, Henry and Colin Hegele of MauiWine as the 2021 Farm Family of the Year,” according to the announcement.

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As MauiWine’s president, Paula has collaborated with C. Pardee Erdman and his family to ensure the company’s success through the years. Since its beginnings as Tedeschi Vineyards in 1974, MauiWine has evolved into a 25-acre vineyard and 26,000-case production facility, with a visitor center and historic tasting room.

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For a decade, MauiWine presented the annual ʻUlupalakua Thing, bringing together thousands of people to meet farmers, ranchers and chefs. The Hegele boys volunteered at the event and worked in the vineyard as teenagers. Now, as men, all three are members of the hard-working MauiWine team.

The Mike Lyons Award went to Hawaiian Electric Company. HECO’s Mahina Martin, director of government and community affairs (left) is pictured with Warren Watanabe, MCFB executive director (right). Photo credit: Steve Brinkman Photography

Each year, the Mike Lyons award is given to a person or organization whose support for Maui’s agriculture industry on Maui has truly made a difference. Receiving MCFB’s 2021 Mike Lyons Award is Hawaiian Electric Company.

HECO Maui County has been a partner in MCFB’s Agriculture in the Classroom since the program was first introduced in schools more than 15 years ago. “HECO is also a founding and unwavering supporter of Maui AgFest and 4-H Livestock Fair. MCFB and many farming and ranching members benefit from collaboration and partnership with HECO,” according to the announcement.

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“Agriculture has an essential role in our island community, and it’s important to recognize those folks who go the extra mile to ensure its success,” said Warren Watanabe, MCFB executive director. “We are pleased to congratulate Heidi Watanabe, the Hegele Family and HECO for being champions of agriculture on Maui.” 

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