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Lifestyle // Proof Positive
MidWeek Staff

Empowering Communities

By David A. Santistevan, Executive Director, LEAF Hawaii

“Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” -Cree Indian Prophecy

The idea to start the Laulima Ecofriendly Alliance of Farms (LEAF) Project Hawaii first came to me while thinking about what we could do to tackle disparity in our society. I thought what a simple solution it would be if we could provide the unemployed with vacant lands and teach them how to grow food for themselves and for their communities.

LEAF is committed to creating self-sufficient communities where at-risk populations are empowered through farming to guarantee food security and employment for everyone willing to work. LEAF Project Hawaii is a communitybased green nonprofit that aims to solve hunger and poverty through its Aina Corps Organic Farming Training Program.

For the past three years, LEAF partnered with Institute for Human Services (IHS) by participating in its innovative urban garden initiative. This served as a LEAF pilot project that resulted in a new partnership with Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP), with which we are currently working to develop an onthe-job training program for low-income families, homeless and unemployed on two acres of land in Waimanalo.

LEAF has helped people like Dulcie Marchant, who participated in the IHS urban garden initiative. “With the current economic downturn, the unemployed and homeless are given an opportunity for release from struggle and uncertainty, to regain their personal power and expand it,” Marchant says. “As the first graduate of their multi-disciplinary program approach, I was given an opportunity by placing me in a job in this field.”

Our plans now are to continue working with committed partners in developing our Aina Corps Organic Farming Training Program. We will teach all aspects of operating a successful organic farm. We plan to enroll trainees in the program soon and invite participation from those who are interested in the organic farming industry.

To apply or for more information, visit leafhawaii.org or call 389-1819. If you would like to volunteer your talent, time or resources, contact us by phone or email, leafhawaii@gmail.com. Become a partner in solving hunger and poverty now!

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