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Chad Pata

Les Femmes Of Farm To Table

They now grow 12 different mango varieties, with the Molokai native Mapulehu mango being the most sought-after. “You can just spoon it out and it melts in your mouth,” Suiso says.

She dreams of the day when farming can be her total focus, and while she knows that not everyone can experience the joy of growing their own food, she at least wishes that residents will buy locally grown products.

“If you are not going to grow your own food, at least support your local farmers,” says Suiso, who likes the changes she has seen in her time in the DOE. “Elementary schools are now helping with the idea that food comes from the ground, not from the store.”

While Suiso was daydreaming at Waianae High about her man-goes, Shin Ho of Ho Farms in Kahuku was dreaming about a way out.

“Most kids don’t go to school thinking they want to be a farmer, so I went to school so I wouldn’t have to be a farmer,” says Ho, whose father started the 40-acre Ho farm after escaping from a refugee camp in Thailand in 1987. “But I fell back into it. What keeps me here is that we are doing a good thing for Hawaii, and hopefully one day it will be more important than tourism.”

What Ho discovered was that a college education is almost a necessity these days in farming with the business of marketing her products, the science of growing them and the savvy to fend off the ceaseless influx of imported goods.

Ho Farms raises baby tomatoes, Japanese cucumbers and long beans, and employs about 30 people on the North Shore. It is one of the few farms in the state to be certified as a Food Safety Certified Farm because of its minimal use of chemicals and pesticides.

These hardworking women from all sides of this island will be on hand to answer your questions and showcase their products at the Girls Got Game event that also will feature six different dishes prepared by chefs from Taipei to New York City.

Even though it will be the ones in the starched white jackets with the shining steel knives who will receive most of the applause, save some for the women with sun-kissed faces and the dirt under their nails.

“I still look at farming and the food culture as the fabric of the landscape of what Hawaii is,” says Yamaguchi. “Look at farmers in general and look at the community. We want to make sure the community meets the people who source their food. They are the ones creating the environment for us to make a healthier choice. When we talk about them, it allows us to make healthier choices for a healthier community.”

Other female farmers featured at the festival include Lesley Hill of Wailea Agricultural Group on the Big Island; Amy Shinsato of Shinsato Farm in Kaneohe, and Janice Stanga of Hamakua Mushrooms on the Big Island.

Female chefs include Jacqueline Lau of Roy’s Restaurant-Honolulu; Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco; Emma Hearst of Sorella in New York; Anita Lo of Annisa in New York; Harumi Kurihara of Yutori no Kukan in Tokyo, and Amber Lin of Foodie Amber in Taipei.

And for good measure, there will be an award-winning mixologist blending drinks using local ingredients, Chandra Lucariello of Southern Wine & Spirits in Honolulu.

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