Rep. Kawakami telecommunicating with Talia Abrams to discuss HB2177
Rep. Kawakami telecommunicating with Talia Abrams to discuss HB2177

REPORT FROM THE STATE HOUSE – HONOLULU – House Bill 2177 is the brainchild of 15-year-old Talia Abrams of Princeville, Kauai. Earlier this session, it passed through the House Water and Land Committee, then the House Finance Committee and today the measure was voted on by the full House and passed on third reading. Although it is only half way through the full legislative process, it is, nevertheless, an accomplishment not shared by hundreds of bills which have fallen by the wayside during the grueling three hearing bill review process in the House.

“HB 2177 is not only a good idea but is also a great example of how our youth can get involved in our legislative process,” said Kawakami, who was approached by Abrams last session on her idea of an edible landscape.”

The measure seeks to establish a statewide network of “community food forests” or edible landscape to create a ready source of locally grown food and as an answer to the problem of increasing food costs and the dwindling availability of undeveloped land. The bill was introduced by Kauai Rep. Derek Kawakami (Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapaa, Wailua) and co-sponsored by 23 other representatives, including Rep. Dee Morikawa (Niihau, Lehua, Waimea, Koloa) and James Tokioka (Wailua Homesteads, Hanamaulu, Lihue, Puhi, Old Koloa Town, Omao).

“It is also an example of addressing community needs by creating partnerships to improve our public lands,” Kawakami added. “Many of our well maintained parks, harbors, and recreational areas are so because of volunteers who participate in our adopt-a-park and adopt-a-harbor programs. This bill would allow community members to partner with the State to help provide food on public lands.”

“As legislators, it is our great honor and privilege to work alongside our future generations and nurture their creativity.  This initiative is a perfect opportunity for Kauai residents, and residents State-wide, to actively engage in their communities, cultivate stronger relationships with their neighbors and help to ensure a more self-sustainable Hawaii,” said Tokioka.

If it becomes law, the measure would create a community food forest program within the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and would be modeled after the Kalihiwai Food Forest, a two-acre site on Kauai’s North Shore, which contains thousands of edible roots, ground, shrub and tree plantings. The one-year project is a collaboration between Malama Kauai and Regenerations International Botanical Gardens.

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