LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Grown program is all about connecting, said Melissa McFerrin of the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau.
McFerrin was chatting with Dr. Helen Cox, chancellor at Kaua‘i Community College, during the first anniversary of the weekly Kaua‘i Community Market on Saturdays at the Puhi campus. The program is a partnership between KCC and the Farm Bureau.
Referring to the Kaua‘i Grown website, McFerrin said they are in the process of creating a mini-video of each of the participating farmers or producers so online visitors can have a greater awareness of what is available.
“The Kaua‘i Grown program was initiated by the County of Kaua‘i Office of Economic Development and the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau as a way to promote our locally grown agricultural products and recognize the farmers, ranchers, retailers, and restaurants that bring these products to the consumer,” McFerrin said during a Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event introducing the program to the business community last Tuesday at Kukui‘ula Village, home of the weekly Culinary Market.
McFerrin was excited because during that event, the Hukilau Lanai restaurant, a participant at the Kaua‘i Grown Chef’s Cookoff at the recent farm fair, signed on to become a member.
“We’re really excited about Hukilau joining the growing list of restaurants that employ Kaua‘i Grown products,” McFerrin said. “It’s even more exciting because our annual farm fair mahalo dinner will feature an all-Kaua‘i menu prepared by the Hukilau staff.”
During the Chamber event, McFerrin described Kaua‘i Grown as a branded marketing program to promote Kaua‘i-grown farm products and products with more than 50 percent Kaua‘i-grown ingredients.
Vendors, many local producers in the Kaua‘i Grown program, are an integral part of the Community Market and overlap to participate in the Culinary Market held Wednesday afternoons at Kukui‘ula Village.
Both weekly markets partner with the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau with the end goal of enhancing the relationships between farmers, retailers, restaurants and the consumer.
At the Saturday anniversary of the Community Market, Bill Spitz of the Office of Economic Development was browsing through the offerings in the KCC parking lot, a copy of the cooking demonstration by KCC culinary arts students in hand.
“I’m just looking to see how many of these ingredients I can buy from this market,” he said, just ahead of one of the culinary arts students who shopped for her supply of fresh vegetables with her family.
During the After Hours event, Merriman’s Kaua‘i Executive Chef Kevin Ives prepared a menu featuring items from Kaneshiro Farms, Kaua‘i Shrimp, Koloa Rum Co., Wooton Farms, Kaua‘i Fresh Farms, Kailani Farms, and Kunana Dairy resulting in a theme of “fresh and local,” said Randall Francisco, president of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce.
“I encourage farmers, retailers, grocery stores, restaurant owners, hotels and anyone else who can connect Kaua‘i people with the locally grown food products they want to buy to participate in the Kaua‘i Grown program,” said Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. at the Chamber event. “The county proudly supports this effort, but it will take a collective effort of all stakeholders to make this work the way we know it can for a healthier, more sustainable Kaua‘i.”
Visit www.kauaigrown.org for more information, including a directory of all participating farms, restaurants and retailers coming in November.