Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tutu & Me Traveling Preschool is expanding its services in Pahala by offering a home visiting option in addition to meeting at Pahala and Na`alehu Community Centers. Photo from Tutu & Me
RESULTS OF A YEARLONG STUDY of issues and challenges faced by Hawai`i’s organic food industry are available in Growing Organics: Moving Hawai`i’s Organic Industry Forward. The report by The Kohala Center puts forth 58 recommendations to increase organic food production and distribution, improve access to technical assistance, promote producer and consumer education, reduce costs and foster greater advocacy for certified organic food production in Hawai`i, among others.
A new report discusses the issues and challenges facing Hawai`i's organic
food industry. Photo from The Kohala Center
      The Kohala Center conducted an analysis of barriers inhibiting the availability of certified-organic food produced in Hawai`i, facilitated the project and convened a statewide Organic Industry Advisory Group comprised of specialty crop producers and other industry representatives and affiliates from across the state to guide research, data collection, public input and analysis.
      “With Hawai`i’s organic stakeholders lacking a centralized program office, this project set out to determine not only what such an office might do, but to define the critical issues and barriers constraining Hawai`i’s organic industry from producing and offering more food at more reasonable prices,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cole, chief operating officer of The Kohala Center and former Ka`u resident. “By identifying issues most important to the state’s organic stakeholders and soliciting additional public input, the OIAG was able to recommend ways in which existing organizations, including the newly reorganized Hawai`i Organic Farming Association, could adapt to best serve the needs of the state’s certified organic growers, producers, distributors, and consumers.”
      A series of public surveys conducted last summer as part of the project made clear that the demand for locally grown, certified-organic produce is high among Hawai`i consumers, as well as producers of value-added products. Primary barriers to the availability of fresh, locally grown, certified-organic produce included insufficient transportation infrastructure; availability of affordable, organic-certifiable farmland; high costs of energy and imported agricultural inputs; and scarcity of suitable processing and packaging facilities.
      The recommendations contained in the final report span 10 subject areas including representation, processing, farmland, distribution, education and enforcement, and marketing. Existing public and private entities such as government agencies, educational institutions and inter-island transport companies were identified and correlated with each recommendation based on their potential to create or update programs and services to better support the production and availability of locally grown, certified organic foods in Hawai`i.
      The final report and additional information about the study are available online at kohalacenter.org/laulima/organic_group.html or by calling The Kohala Center at 887-6411.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Mazie Hirono
U.S. SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO JOINED religious leaders, women’s advocates and minimum wage workers at a press conference to urge Republicans to support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which would lift the wages of 15 million American women. 
      Nearly two-thirds of those earning the minimum wage are women, and a single mother working full-time in a minimum wage job to support her children earns $15,000 per year, which is below the poverty line for a single parent. Ahead of International Women’s Day, which is this Saturday, March 8, Sen. Hirono discussed the importance of passing the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2016, and raise the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to $7.07 per hour. Both minimum wages would be automatically indexed to inflation afterward.
      Hirono was joined at the press conference by Nyah Potts, a restaurant worker who shared her story about struggling to make ends meet while earning the tipped minimum wage and by leaders from Faith in Public Life, the National Women’s Law Center, Interfaith Worker Justice and NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. One of the speakers, Sister Simone Campbell, was also instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose the “Ryan Budget” approved by the House of Representatives.
      “People of all faiths are joining together to answer the call to fight poverty and advocate for the dignity of a living wage. As someone who was raised by a single mother and knows what it is like to live in a minimum wage household, I’m proud to join workers like Nyah who are speaking up about their challenges. We must raise the minimum wage so hardworking families have a chance at building a better life for themselves and their children,” said Hirono.
      At the state level, measures to raise the minimum wage are progressing through the Legislature, with both the Senate and House approving bills and sending them to the other chamber for consideration.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Hawai`i Wildlife Fund will use its new donated boat, Seaque, in conservation work.
Photo from HWF
HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND HAS RECEIVED the donation of a Bayliner 222 from Charles Bittenbring of Captain Cook for use in conservation work on Hawai`i Island and Maui. Last week, Young Brothers provided free shipment of the boat to Maui, where HWF will use the boat in sea turtle habitat studies, marine debris recovery and marine conservation education work. HWF president Hannah Bernard said the boat, named Seaque, “will indeed help us as we ‘seek’ to better understand our nearshore ecosystems and protect them from the damages of marine debris.” 
      Megan Lamson, coordinator of HWF Ka`u Coast Cleanups, said the boat will be used here when Maui has completed its work.
      For more about Hawai`i Wildlife Fund, see wildhawaii.org.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

TUTU AND ME TRAVELING PRESCHOOL is expanding its services in Pahala by offering a home visiting option so they can share a glimpse of what their program has to offer. Tutu and Me is an early education program for keiki and their caregivers who meet at the Pāhala Community Center every Tuesday and Thursday.
      The program brings a high quality, early education program to each participating keiki and caregiver. There is no cost and Tutu & Me brings all materials.
      Activities that help prepare your keiki for school include puzzles, age-appropriate toys, journal-writing, art, math, science, stories and puppets. Staff works to individualize visits.
      Call or visit the office to learn more about Tūtū and Me and to enroll in the program. Address is 95-1163 Ka`alaiki Road Building B Na`alehu. Phone number is 929-8571.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar

VOLUNTEERS MEET AT KILAUEA VISITOR CENTER in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park to help remove invasive Himalayan ginger from park trails during Stewardship at the Summit tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Other dates scheduled are Friday, March 14; Saturday, March 22; and Wednesday, March 26. Free; park entrance fees apply.

THE FIRST IN AN EXPERIMENTAL SERIES of Flash Exhibits at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village runs from tomorrow, March 7 through Tuesday, March 11. This exhibit features paintings by Margaret and sculpture by Randy. 
      In this special exhibit, Margaret Stanton and Randy Takaki share their visions in painting and sculpture. Both artists’ work begins in the forests of Hawai`i Island near its active volcanoes.
      Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 The opening reception is tomorrow at 5 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. with The Elementalz – Sherri Thal (vocals/violin/percussion) and Brent Magstadt (vocals/guitar) – who combine broad horizons of musical experience for a unique blend of original alt-elemental acoustic grooves, from centered Americana to free-form fusion instrumentals.

      On Saturday, Steve Fundy, Margaret Stanton and Maj Balej offer original guitar bass and drums grooves from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

VOLUNTEERS FOR KA`U BEACH CLEANUPS are headed to Hilo this Sunday for Ocean Day, with Malama Kanaloa Festival held at Hilo Bayfront Beach Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free and open to public, the event provides hands-on activities for keiki and their families to learn about and celebrate the importance of protecting our coastal and ocean ecosystems. This annual event features information on marine and coastal research, on how to get involved with `aina and kai stewardship and initiatives, and engaging presentations for community members to reconnect to our island resources.
      Also on hand are live music, face painting, food, door prizes and more.

SEE THE MARCH ISSUE of The Ka`u Calendar newspaper online at kaucalendar.com.


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