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Strengthening Hawai‘i’s Communities
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Giving Farmers More Assurance

Giving Farmers More Assurance

When Kaua‘i County shut down its farmers’ markets in March 2020, farmers were left holding the produce bag. “It happened on a Friday and the next day was the market,” says Yoshito L’Hote, executive director of ‘Āina Hoʻokupu o Kīlauea (AHOK), a nonprofit that aims to solve food security issues in the Kīlauea area.  

L’Hote met with farmers to identify potential solutions. Wanting to help, he bought all 5,000 pounds of their fruits and vegetables. “We didn’t have any money for that,” he says, but he knew he had the capacity to sell the produce. AHOK created community-supported agriculture (CSA) boxes to sell at market rate. Kaua‘i Strong Fund grants of $10,000 in March and $5,000 in May helped the organization expand the program to include free CSA boxes to families in need.  

“The grants were crucial to initiate those relationships and helped give us the confidence we needed to ultimately move 20,000 pounds of produce a week. Bringing that to the local economy was wonderful,” says L’Hote. The program continues today.

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