"There are four things you should know,” says David Fuertes to the youths he mentors. “You should know your origins, because your ancestors have paved the way. You should know your values and connect in those values, because that’s going to drive you to make decisions. You should know your purpose, because that will show the ‘why’ of what you’re doing. And you should envision the ultimate for yourself and your lāhui [or ‘people’].”
Fuertes is the executive director of Kahua Pa’a Mua, an education-focused agriculture nonprofit in North Kohala, on the bucolic northern tip of Hawai‘i Island (also known as the Big Island). It’s one of many organizations that have popped up in the past decade in pursuit of food security and resilience in the Aloha State.
Hawai‘i is “showing the rest of the country how circular and regenerative and local food systems can support the economy, strengthen cultural heritage, and improve the overall health of the community,” according to the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group. Their docuseries, Regenerating Paradise, showcases local farm-to-school programs, community poi harvesting, farm entrepreneurship training programs, and soil health and composting initiatives.
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