Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maui Food Sustainability

I've been thinking about the idea of the island of Maui being self sustainable in terms of food. Would something like this be possible? Could we really supply all that we consume in homes and restaurants on this small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean?

I would like to think it is, but I haven't done the calculations. I read that supermarkets only have a 3 day food supply. So if for some reason, we couldn't ship food here, we would only be stocked for three days. It may not be possible to make Maui completely self sustaining, but I'm sure we are far from being as good as we could. How could we create an independent food surplus?

I don't believe it would require all to take to their backyards armed with hoes and seeds, although that wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't think we would have to slow down much, though again, it might not be negative. It would require, however, a shift in values and philosophies about the land, capitalism, human interaction and heightened awareness of the natural world. This would probably prove to be the largest obstacle, as we are creatures of habit.

Some steps we could take to move towards paradise sustainability would be to:
-have fruit/productive trees in parks and public areas
I would love to walk through a park and pick some fresh mangoes or mulberries from the tree I was sitting under. Nutritious and free.

-use unused lots in the "city" for food production
I wouldn't say Maui has any real cities, but the unused urban land could be used for something productive that could either be sold in a market, or donated to families/communities who need it. People could volunteer or be community service hours for lawbreakers.

-school gardens
Schools could independently provide some of their food, reducing need for gov't funds. Students could have the satisfaction that they grew their own food.

-youth gardening programs
Getting the youth accustomed to veggies and gardens would be a large step. If more people grew up with gardening skills, they would be more apt to use them.

-rooftop gardens
What wasted space the roof is. They get great sun and rain exposure and take up a large percent of urban space. Reclaim the roof.

-city parks/gardens
Imagine a park where all could go to see how gardening is done. With beautiful as well as useful/productive plants, people would be inspired to recreate it at home. the park garden would provide useful examples of plant companions, resource management and layout to assist the home gardener. The garden could also sell plants to subsidize its existence.

-dedicated place for a farmers market
I have been to the Maui farmers market in the Maui Mall. It looks pretty sad, with a couple of tables of fruits and vegetables. And come on, the Maui Mall! Who goes there? If Maui had an area designated for a farmers market, possibly enclosed, complete with information on farms, gardens, growers, latest guidelines, tips, contact information, etc., it might be a more fruitful venture for all.

-Maui specific online resources and education
You might often read gardening tips that are irrelevant to your situation. Do I really need to read about last frosts here on Maui? No. What I want is water requirements and heat/sun preferences, soil recommendations, etc. that relate to my situation.

-label food with foodmiles (the distance it travels from farm to store)
I am willing to bet that if all things being the same, you would choose the strawberry that travelled 5 miles, opposed to 500. That would motivate local farms to supply the local demand.

Just some ideas. I will to share them with those at the Master Gardener class, including the instructor.

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