-by Andi Fisher
“90% imported. 90% imported.” As I drove around visiting Greenwell Farms, Hamakua Mushrooms, Volcano Winery; as I had conversations with folks at hotels and looked at restaurant menus, I still found it crazy that 90% of produce to Hawaii is imported. It is crazy!
Coming from California where produce – fresh and local – is in abundance, I just can’t fathom how lush and fertile Hawaii, where things grow and flourish, could be so upside down on this.
I still haven’t quite figured out how Hawaii got into that situation, but I know who is helping to get it out, and she is a dynamo.
Meet Lani Weigert.
Doesn’t that smile draw you in? She is electric, energizing and passionate about one thing: agritourism.
She created the concept in Hawaii, beginning with the Ali’i Kula Lavender farm which used as a model for how to do it right. [A place I would visit a few days later.] She founded HATA, the Hawaii AgriTourism Association, to help the entire ecosystem as a way to “support the culture, values and resources that local people treasure.” She goes all over the country and the world teaching farmers how to do exactly that.
Agritourism is not just great for tourists (or foodies) looking for something unique to do, it is an economic lifeline, one that allows farmers with multi-generational family farms to get a leg up and support their local community. And for that reason, I am a huge fan.
I met Lani at Hamakua Mushrooms. Like many Type-A women, flying around the world, running an organization, creating tours, supporting agricultural reform, making appearances and doing Ted talks isn’t enough on her plate, she is also the Marketing & Community Relations Director at Hamakua! Lani gave me my private tour and cooked up some tasty shrooms to devour (which of course I did).
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About Andi Fisher: Andi is a full-time corporate gal, AFAR Ambassador, Local Expert of San Francisco, and travel blogger for Misadventures with Andi. She works in social media and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she loves to play tourist. She grew up living all over the world and continues to be a gypsy as often as possible. A true foodie, most of her travel focuses on the local food and restaurant scene and how much of it she can get in her mouth!