Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Monday, Sept. 28, 2015

Trini Marques told her story of growing up in an agricultural community, working for sugar and joining her husband to help start the Ka`u Coffee industry 20 years ago. Photos by Julia Neal
KA`U COFFEE FARMERS ASKED FOR HELP from the community, government officials and current and prospective owners of land where they farm. The public meeting was held last night at Pahala Community Center.
      Farmers talked about the possibility that a new owner could subdivide land where they have farmed for nearly 20 years. A Project Unit Development plan, approved by the county after investors bought the former sugar land from C. Brewer, could allow the land to be divided and sold. Under one proposal, up to a half acre could be cleared within a coffee farm to make room for a house, as in a coffee estate. The estate could be sold, leaving the coffee grower farming around the house until the farmer’s license expires.
Joan Obra talked about coffee berry borers spreading from hot
spots to farm after farm in a circular pattern, with no respect to
farm boundaries.
      State Rep. Richard Onishi asked representatives of current owner Lehman Brothers, of New York, and prospective buyer Resource Land Holdings LLC, of Colorado, whether they would consider selling the land to the farmers. Lehman Brothers’ broker for the sale, Joel LaPinta, said the land is in escrow to Resource Land Holdings and that Lehman is not considering marketing it to anyone else at this time. Tom Yeh, a Hilo attorney representing Resource Land Holdings, said he would take the question back to his client.
      County Council member Maile David said she grew up on a coffee farm and understands land security challenges. She applauded the open dialogue between the farmers and real estate investors. She pointed to the “human element” and the difference between the corporate bottom line of investors needing to make a profit and everyday families needing to make a living.
      In addition to the possibility of the lands being subdivided, Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative spokesperson Joan Obra said coffee growers face a proposal of higher land rents from the prospective new corporate owner at a time when costs are climbing to fight the coffee borer and possibly other pests. Should rents go up at the same time as the cost of fighting the coffee berry borer, some farmers could quit, the land left unattended with borers spreading. The Ka`u Coffee industry could go into a tailspin, she said.
Farmers displayed their awards and stories of their journey to build
the Ka`u Coffee industry.
      Another concern is a proposal that would make the new landowner the owner of the coffee trees. Obra said the farmers may not be able to have crop insurance if ownership of the trees is taken away from them. She pointed to natural events in the last 15 years, including flooding, fire and volcanic emissions.
      Listening to these challenges were county and state officials who all promised to help, including state Chair of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, Rep. Clift Tusji, deputy chair Onishi, Ka`u state Rep. Richard Creagan and Scott Enright, Chair of the state Department of Agriculture. County economic development staff members were also on hand, as well as University of Hawai`i and state agriculture workers who all regularly help Ka`u Coffee farmers. 
      Ka`u Coffee Grower Cooperative President Gloria Camba said, “Ka`u Coffee is a positive influence in our community. It brings pride, economic independence and jobs. It provides unprecedented economic growth in the form of small, independent, locally owned businesses. Ka`u Coffee has also brought good publicity and esteem to our community with many of our Ka`u Coffees winning state, national and international awards. We have international markets from Europe to Japan and buyers across the U.S.
      “Most importantly, Ka`u Coffee has led to a new confidence and a new entrepreneur spirit among displaced sugar workers who lost their jobs 20 years ago when the sugar industry shut down and our community faced low morale and despair. It is these displaced sugar workers who did not give up. They transferred their hard work ethic and agricultural skills to a new agricultural industry for Ka`u. They built the famous brand – Ka`u Coffee.”
Miguel Meza presented a break-even analysis based on coffee
berry borer infestation, land rent and coffee prices.
      One of the original Ka`u Coffee farmers, Trini Marques, gave a history of the plantation workers setting out to create the new economy and to build a coffee co-op, develop a market and start the Ka`u Coffee Festival. She talked about assistance that first farmers gave newer farmers and how the industry helped the community come out of the sociological and financial crisis of losing the sugar industry. She referred to help provided through the late Sen. Daniel Inouye and federal, state and county programs, as well as education and agricultural consulting by numerous agencies.
      She talked about the success of the Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant which raises scholarship money for young women and provides a Ka`u Coffee ambassador.
      Miss Ka`u Coffee 2015 Maria Miranda spoke about her family’s journey from El Salvador to the mainland and to Hawai`i where they first worked on Kona coffee farms until they joined the Ka`u Coffee movement by establishing their own farm. She said how much it means to her family to be in the U.S. and to have the opportunity to successfully create their own business, “the American dream.”
      Hawai`i Farm Bureau President Chris Manfredi committed his organization to helping coffee farmers and reviewed his own involvement in helping to market Ka`u Coffee and organize the Ka`u Coffee Festival.
      Coffee broker Malian Lahey, who has her own farm in Wood Valley, said the Ka`u situation is the intersection between agriculture and the real estate business. “Real estate is famous for killing off agriculture.”
      Obra and Miguel Meza, who also markets Ka`u Coffee, gave a detailed analysis of break-even scenarios for the farmers given their land cost and coffee berry borer risks.
      Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

Rhonda Balmer at Kama`aina Kuts
Photo by Nalani Parlin
KAMA`AINA KUTS IN NA`ALEHU welcomed hair stylist Rhonda Balmer earlier this month. Balmer, of Ocean View, is a licensed cosmetologist, in business 32 years. Starting out in Los Angeles, Balmer worked several years and trained with Vidal Sassoon. In Sedona, AZ, she operated Denovo salon and spa in the Hilton. In 2001, she made the trek to Hawai`i and worked as cosmetologist at Four Seasons and for the past 12 years at Ocean View Hair Salon. 
      With opportunity to work with Kama`aina Kuts owner and stylist Corrine Kaupu and fellow hair stylist Elise Russell, Balmer is excited to add natural nails and facial waxing to her services. “I love making people beautiful and seeing their smiles, describing it as a powerful job to help someone beautify appearance to boost self-confidence and affect all aspects of life. Pam Spencer, Balmer’s client for a decade, said, “Rhonda has a passion for what she does, and it shows in her work.” She commented that she really liked the Kama`aina Kuts salon space as it gives a “personalized environment” providing a “one-on-one experience.”
      Balmer offers hair services on Sunday, Monday and Friday. She does manicures and pedicures on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Call 929-8151.
       Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

U.S. REP. TULSI SHARED the stage with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday in San Jose, CA as a crowd of more than 18,000 people welcomed him. Just before the Prime Minister took the stage, he met with Gabbard and other members of Congress to discuss plans to build U.S.-India relations and promote technology partnerships.

 Gabbard is the only member of the U.S. Congress who practices the Hindu religion, which is prevalent in India.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a fresh
ginger lei from Hawai`i, a tradition shared by the people of India.
Photo from Rep. Gabbard's office 
      “There are many different areas and sectors where the United States and India’s growing friendship will cover mutually beneficial ground,” Gabbard said. “Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to the United States has allowed us to continue to strengthen those bonds and explore new opportunities for us to work together.”

      The Prime Minister’s two-day tour of Silicon Valley also included meetings with technology executives who offered their ideas and assistance in bringing India fully into the digital world. India is the world’s fastest-growing economy, and use of the Internet and smart phones is growing rapidly, providing new markets for American companies.
       Read comments, add your own, and like The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs on Facebook.

Cross-secton shows dark staining of sapwood typical in rapid `ohi`a death.
RAPID `OHI`A DEATH IS THE TOPIC at After Dark in the Park tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The disease has the potential to threaten forests statewide. 
      For more information, call 985-6011.

E PILI KAUA PA`INA tickets are still available for Uhane Pohaku Na Moku O Hawai`i's fundraiser Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Donation is $25.
      The nonprofit works with challenged youth though agriculture and traditional Hawaiian skill building. The evening features entertainment by Mark Yamanaka and a roast pork dinner on the grounds of Pahala Plantation House.
      For tickets, call Kumu Hula Debbie Ryder at 315-7032 or 649-9334.
      The nonprofit also sponsors Ho`okupu Hula No Ka`u Cultural Festival this Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pahala Plantation House. The festival includes music, hula, crafts, food and cultural workshops. Open to the public with no fees both nights.
      See images below for more information.
      See www.hookupukau.com.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_September2015.pdf.

See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf
and kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf.

Buy a bag for $7 and fill with books for another $3
at Ka`u libraries.

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