When Michelle Galimba was a teen, raising 4-H heifers in a then-remote Haleiwa, she would look forward to her big annual trip to town for the Hawaii State Farm Fair on the McKinley High School grounds.
"It was really a big deal — a social scene for ag kids," she said, a bit of girlish enthusiasm creeping into her voice over the line from Kau, Hawaii, where she now raises cattle with her family.
This year, Galimba will return to the fair with her own 9-year-old daughter, and she admits to feeling some nostalgia for the days when Haleiwa was "almost like a neighbor island," and her dad worked for Meadow Gold, caring for dairy cattle on the North Shore.
HAWAII STATE FARM FAIR
With food, music, a 4-H livestock exhibit, agriculture and tropical plant displays and the Ag-tastic Expo, showcasing Hawaii-grown, Hawaii-made products.
Where: Bishop Museum
When: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $7, $3 ages 4 to 12; includes admission to Bishop Museum
Info: 848-2074, www.hfbf.org
Note: The Hawaii Farm Bureau’s farmers market usually held at Kapiolani Community College tomorrow moves to Bishop Museum. There’s a free shuttle from Honolulu Community College both days; riders can enter a contest for a trip for two to Las Vegas while on board.
Things have changed, of course. The islands are more crowded, more urban. Meadow Gold’s milk comes from the mainland. And Galimba, a Punahou grad with a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley, is back in the ag business, as a rancher with her dad, producing local beef and serving as president of the Hawaii Cattleman’s Association.
Galimba and the Hawaii State Farm Fair are navigating a dynamic trend: the "eat local" movement, which some would call it a revolution in the making. Interest in Hawaii products has affected the Hawaii Farm Bureau, sponsor of the fair, diversifying support — and scrutiny — of local agriculture.
"This year’s Farm Fair is an exciting one for the Hawaii Farm Bureau," says the organization’s executive director, Luella Costales.
"It’s an opportunity for country and city to reconnect and learn from each other," Galimba says. "We’re at a real crisis point — and it’s manifested in how people eat!"
GALIMBA is bringing samples of her grass-fed, corn-finished Kuahiwi Ranch beef to the fair, with frozen cuts to sell. She remembers that a generation ago, many Hawaii residents looked down their noses at grass-fed local beef, dismissing its "yellow fat." Now Hawaii chefs feature local beef with fanfare, and a solid market exists for it — though hurdles certainly remain.
The eat-local movement has brought the Farm Bureau and other Hawaii organizations together to support an "Ono Revolution" — a drive to sign up local residents for a pledge to buy 10 percent local, "growing Hawaii’s food independence," Costales says.
Galimba calls the eat-local movement "a real opportunity" for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers.
"Farming and ag are becoming more interesting to people," she observes, approvingly. "It’s bringing human potential, creativity back to our economy."
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS