After Koa Ridge, food sovereignty is more important than ever

As Koa Ridge breaks ground on some of the Hawaiʻi's most fertile land, the Sierra Club recommits to shifting the state's policy toward local food production.

Hawaii Independent Staff

On November 2, 2017, Castle & Cooke Hawaiʻi broke ground on Koa Ridge after more than 15 years of opposition from the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, the Save Oʻahu Farmland Alliance, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends and many other organizations and community members. Like Hoʻopili, the Koa Ridge development is being built on land that is blessed with an abundance of clean freshwater, sunlight and fertile soils, making it some of the most prime agricultural land in the state.

“While we are ultimately disappointed that the Koa Ridge development officially broke ground, we will continue our work to protect farmland from suburbanization,” said Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi.

Hawaiʻi imports more than 80 percent of the food it consumes. The archipelago’s extreme isolation within the Pacific makes this lack of food security a major concern. Now more than ever, public policy in Hawaiʻi must shift toward protecting its remaining agricultural lands, especially in the light of increasingly strong and frequent storms caused by climate change. To withstand the uncertain shift in climate, Hawaiʻi must double down on its efforts now to produce more of its own food.

“This is about our survival,” said Sierra Club volunteer Randy Ching. “Preserving Hawaiʻi’s remaining farmlands, especially on Oʻahu, is essential to a more resilient and sustainable Hawaiʻi. And that means concentrating future housing construction in the urban core of downtown Honolulu,” Ching added.

“Our members and supporters fought hard against this development on farm land in active production. Though the project is moving forward, there is still work to be done. The Sierra Club and its partners will do everything we can to ensure Koa Ridge is built in the most sustainable ways possible—everything from clean energy to complete streets. We invite others to join us in this effort” says Townsend.